Ingrid Weir’s career as a designer has taken her all around the world, but when COVID-19 struck, like many of us, she turned to a project close to home.
After leaving Ascham in 1990, Ingrid completed a Bachelor of Architecture. She then spent a year studying jewellery design at the Californian College of the Arts and Crafts in Berkeley, which led her to an interest in art and theatre, and she later assisted artist Tracey Moffatt.
Ingrid then turned her attention to film graphics, where she developed a particular interest in period films. In 2003, she worked on the blockbuster Master and Commander.
On returning to Australia, Ingrid began working with the Sydney Theatre Company, and then moved into costume and production design for television, often for the ABC. She worked on favourites such as The Chaser’s War on Everything and Play School.
About 10 years ago, Ingrid made the leap to establish her own interior design firm. Clients have included Macquarie Bank, the Australian Film Television and Radio School, the National Art School and a pop-up venue for the Sydney Opera House.
Then COVID-19 hit.
Though Ingrid was able to continue working on a small number of interiors projects remotely, most of her commercial work came to an end – that’s when the idea for a book took hold.
Ingrid put a proposal for a book about a ‘new’ type of country living to publishers Hardie Grant, who promptly accepted it. ‘It all happened really fast,’ Ingrid said.
The book, New Rural: Where to Find It and How to Create It, is intended as both inspiration and a guide for those considering—or making—a ‘tree change’. While the book is part personal (Ingrid has her own place in an artists’ colony in Hill End) she has also featured other interesting and beautiful country homes, such as Sean Moran’s Bilpin farm where he grows produce for his iconic Bondi restaurant.
‘The country has a lot of traditional things to offer, like space and nature, it’s less expensive, fresh air. But I’d noticed a “new rural”—these amazing homeware shops and the farm-to-plate movement,’ Ingrid explained.
From a personal perspective, Ingrid had a busy work and social life in Sydney, and time in the country was ‘an exhale and a chance to reconnect.’
Though Ingrid believes there was already a migration towards country living, COVID-19 accelerated the trend. People wanted to get away from densely populated areas and began to realise the possibilities of working from home.
In putting the book together, Ingrid wrote her ideas down first and then turned to the photography, ‘ducking and weaving’ across borders to get to her subjects. The photographs ‘pop’ with Ingrid’s designer’s eye. Though she had studied photography, Ingrid hadn’t done a lot of portraiture previously, but building a rapport and capturing the essence of the person soon become one of her favourite aspects of creating the book.
Ingrid believes the Dalton Plan instilled in her strong organisational and time management skills, which have been an asset in her creative and largely freelance career. ‘I’ve been a freelancer in film and TV, and then having my own interiors business I had to create my own momentum and be really organised and across a lot of different things at once,’ she said.
With a lot of people working in this more fragmented way, the Dalton Plan is perhaps ‘more timely than ever’, she said.
Ingrid shared three tips for creating the perfect country home:
- Create an indoor/outdoor connection. Orient the furniture to the view, or place comfortable outdoor furniture on a veranda or shaded porch. Fire pits are also a great centrepiece for an outdoor living space.
- Place a strong focus on the kitchen, mixing old and new. Cooking in the country is a pleasure because there is more time—and you’re a long way from the shops. Invest in new cupboards (Ingrid’s own kitchen is from IKEA) but mix it up with items with a patina, such as an old timber shelf or a vintage clock.
- Dreamy wallpaper in the bedroom—Ingrid recommends loose patterns and soft colours.
Although Ingrid says she doesn’t spend as much time in the country as she’d like (her fiancé’s job is in the city) she’s busy working on a new book—a companion to the New Rural—so watch this space!
New Rural: Where to Find It and How to Create It is published by Hardie Grant Books.
Caroline Egan (1988)
Portrait of Ingrid Weir by Sally Flegg
Country images below by Ingrid Weir