Thomas Hamel is the author of the acclaimed book “Thomas Hamel, Residence” and is well known as one of Australia’s leading tastemakers. Born in Virginia, Hamel arrived in New York during the 80’s to study design at the Fashion Institute of Technology and continued his studies at the American College in London. Afterward he worked at the world-renowned Parish-Hadley design studio where he was inspired to develop the underlying current of timeless tradition in his design – keeping in touch with significant trends, but never depending on fluctuating fashions or gimmickry to make a mark. He relocated to Sydney, Australia in 1991 to found his own design firm becoming a fixture of the international design community since. Inspired by regular travels around the world to gather inspiration and source objects of interest, Hamel collects and combines varied cultural influences in a fluid manner and has coined “cross-pollination” and “intelligent editing” as the driving forces behind his global design aesthetic.
1. Who gave you your "big" break in the design business? Did you have a mentor?
I started work with Parish-Hadley under the tutelage of Albert Hadley and Sister Parish and it was here that I really felt my big break. After studying at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, followed by a degree in fine art at the American College in London, Parish-Hadley was what I refer to as a “finishing school for interior designers”. Sister Parish and Albert Hadley defined American style. They taught me appropriateness and suitability and they have shaped me into the designer I am today.
2. What qualities do you think are important to become a successful designer?
This is a difficult question as I believe every interior designer has a different approach and require various qualities to suit their success however for me personally, I think understanding the importance of architectural details in the design process, creativity and having a clear vision of how you imagine the project develop are fundamental.
3. Has your design aesthetic changed over the years? If so, how?
I try not to have a “signature style” throughout my projects and focus on a common thread of quiet sophistication and subtle detail. I strive on each job to develop the client’s personality and style, not my own. A timeless interior should always be a harmonious mix of elements – too much of a good thing always becomes tiresome eventually. Mixing styles and finishes will never stop being the most timeless and allows you to always demonstrate a different design aesthetic for each project.
4. What is your non-negotiable in accepting a design job?
Before we proceed with a new project, I think it’s important to allow our clients to experience our work through my eyes so inviting them into my home and our studio to see how we live / work is vital for them to get to know us. We are going to be in each other’s lives for many years as their dream home develops (as well as our friendship), so a shared appreciation of the journey that we are going to commence together is imperative.
5. Why did you choose those pieces as your favorites from LUCCA inventory?
I choose these pieces as they are all truly unique. I love to travel the world and find it one of my biggest inspirations as I discover and collect ethnic pieces, whether it is beaded jewelry handmade by a tribe in Bhutan, a carved wooden mask from Africa or porcelain bowls from South-East Asia. Using these objects creates layers to a room and make such interesting conversations when guests enquire about a piece which then leads to great travel storytelling and memories of the past.