Few jobs are as enviable as Therese Moussa’s: creative developer and head stylist for Sydney’s The Grounds. Even if you’re not from Sydney I’d be surprised if you haven’t heard of this group of beautiful eateries; immaculately detailed, enchanting wonderlands, whose visitors flock from miles away, tripod and camera in tow.
Take the garden bathrooms in The Grounds of Alexandria, a space normally refrained thanks to a lack of budget. Here it’s a different story: “For this space I used a collection of old horse saddles, whips, bridles, stirrups, leads, dried florals and old photos frames of riders and their horses to create a really authentic feel,” explains Therese. “Some of the items in this space were even brought to us and donated to us by our amazing customers.”
Having a lifelong affinity with design, Therese was just 12 years old when she realised she wanted to be an interior designer. “I was always curious going through all of my Dad’s paint colour swatches in his work ute and one day I asked: ‘I want to use all these paint colours, what can I do with them?’ He replied you can be a interior designer or decorator. And that was that!”
From there, she undertook a Bachelor of Design specialising in interiors; but it was her passion for art, styling, creating installations, textiles, pottery and colour theory that got her the dream job at The Grounds. Now she spends her days styling the many spaces of the Alexandria venue – from the cafe to the sprawling garden and hidden laneways, Therese even puts the finishing touch on the food displays. “I style the displays of our pastries and bread in our new Bakery and Patisserie and work closely with The Grounds chefs on the food styling for our social media channels.”
Highlights would have to be styling on a much larger scale, transforming The Grounds for special events: a magical forest for Mother’s Day and Alice in Wonderland for Easter. “Creating a different installation each year for Easter is one of my favourite projects to work on by far! Each year we dream up new concepts and our ideas get bigger and bigger. It brings us so much joy to see so many people from all ages taking photos of the installations around The Grounds and coming together to crack our giant chocolate Easter Egg.”
Therese also helped design the latest venue, The Grounds of the City, alongside The Grounds’ creative director Ramzey Choker and design firm ACME & CO. A dramatic departure from Alexandria, they wanted to create a new experience with a coffee house inspired hub for the city. “This project has been fun working on as it’s just so different,” says Therese. “I worked on the project from the beginning – from conception through to development with styling, uniform, furnishings and also on developing our experiential characters such as the tea lady, shoe shiner and coffee sommelier.”
Every inch of the space is thoughtfully styled from the coffee grinders, sourced from around the world and dating back to the 1920s, to the apothecary jars from France, with customised labels that include the names of the farms and regions where they ethically sourced the beans. But Therese’s favourite feature has to be the library: “The library is made up of all the business books the owner, Ramzey, read to create The Grounds, so all of our secrets are in there! We then had them custom covered in recycled leather offcuts and monogrammed with gold and copper foil by one of our regular local market stallholders.”
With a new styling adventure never far away, Therese will soon bring some festive cheer to The Grounds with their annual Christmas event. And if her track record is anything to go by, it’s going to be magical!