Lucy Folk and Tamsin Johnson

If I were to describe us in terms of a brand, I’d say Tam is Hermès – classic, chic, always appropriate – while I’m more Marni: a bit obscure, colourful and unique.


Our first work collaboration was when I asked Tam to design my store, Playa, in Bondi [which opened in 2017]. We discovered a shared aesthetic and I was thrilled with the way it turned out. The experience cemented our bond: it feels unique to have complete trust in someone personally and creatively. She also helped me design my shop in Paddington [which opened in 2021]. It’s next door to hers!

I’m the oldest, but it often doesn’t feel like that. Tam went to school with boys, which teaches you a lot about human nature, and she became a mother earlier. She was the first to grow up. Her determination and stamina are unbelievable. Patch and I joke that she’ll be supporting all of us one day.

Tam was my rock through my divorce in 2015. She’s a good listener, but she’s a realist, too: it was all about onwards and upwards. She welcomed me into her community when I moved to Sydney the next year and made me feel loved and secure.

I love Tam’s confidence and charm. Whenever we’re together, we just have fun. But it’s effortless, too. As soon as I pick up the phone to talk to her, I’m aware of this incredible bond that we have. It gives me goosebumps.

Tamsin: I always looked up to Lucy as a child; she was two years older than me and I thought she was cool and cheeky. Our friendship really moved up several gears once we left school.

We’ve worked together on many projects. For Playa in Bondi, she told me the brief was “beachy”, which is very much on-brand: her whole approach to life is coastal. We’d seen this epoxy-type floor, which looked wet, in Venice. I suggested we do that in the shop, so customers would feel as if they were walking on water. She loved it. There’s total trust and that’s exciting. And she’s always adding another layer – a towel from Morocco or a curated pile of books.

“Once we drove across Paris for three hours to find a spelt croissant. I’m like, ‘But regular ones are so much nicer!’”

We love the same things – travel, architecture, food – but if we were to walk into a clothes shop, we’d choose completely different things. She’s always telling me to add more colour; she never wears black. And Lucy’s way more alternative than me. When she comes to stay, she makes smoothies and leaves all these weird powders behind. Once we drove across Paris for three hours to find a spelt croissant. I’m like, “But regular ones are so much nicer!”

We just have a ball together. In Venice, we’d gone to this exhibition on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore and noticed that preparations were under way for a lavish party there that night; staff were actually attaching lemons to the trees! A few hours later, after a few spritzers at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection on the Grand Canal, we decided to get dressed up, order a water taxi and blag our way in. The host, it turned out, was François-Henri Pinault [head of the Kering luxury group] and anyone who was someone was there. Nothing stops us.


That same trip, we sailed overnight from the island of Ponza aboard Anouska Hempel’s yacht to Positano [on Italy’s Amalfi coast] to celebrate the opening of Franco’s Bar at Le Sirenuse.

Lucy’s incredibly generous. If she sees a book she thinks I’ll like, she’ll buy two, one for each of us, and we’re always swapping podcasts that inspire us. I don’t have many creative relationships like that; it’s a very special energy.

Work’s important to both of us – it gives us the opportunity to travel and see amazing things – but it’s secondary to lifestyle: we’re just trying to create a world that we want to live in and bring our children into. Family is everything.

Lucy was very supportive in my early days as a parent [Tamsin has a son, 6, and a daughter, 4; Lucy has a son, 2]. When I felt that my whole world was consumed by parenting, she kept checking in on me. It was great having someone to have a conversation with about normal things. She’d never ask me, “How’s the baby sleeping?”

There’d be a huge void in my life without her. I know our paths will continue to criss-cross and the most promising and exciting thing for me is not knowing where or how.

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To read more from Good Weekend magazine, visit our page at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and Brisbane Times.

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