Monday, March 05, 2012

Thomas Hamel Residence

Even before seeing the work of designer Thomas Hamel, I was intrigued by his background. Both a Virginia native and a Parish-Hadley alum, Hamel moved around the world to Australia in 1990 where he started his own design firm. Twenty some odd years later, Hamel is still entrenched in Australia and doing quite well. I find that not just impressive, but brave too.

I recently finished reading a monograph of Hamel's work titled
Residence. It's an interesting book that captures the range of the designer's work. In the introduction, Hamel writes that "In America, for example, where the market is huge, interior designers tend to be known for one look, and offer up that one particular style of design or point of view." It's something that Hamel believes doesn't work in Australia where the market is much smaller. And based on the book's photos, it seems that his Australian clients have given him free rein to work in a multitude of styles. (You can see for yourself in the photos below.)

While I can see the influence that Hamel's adopted country has had on him, his Southern roots are still very much in evidence. Even in the most contemporary of his interiors, there is a comfort and a graciousness to the homes that I suspect can be traced back to his Virginia upbringing. And one more thing that I think is worth noting: Hamel mentions in the book that his favorite book as a child was one about the Thorne miniature rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago. I'm sure there are those people who might find that a strange choice for a child, but if anyone can understand his childhood fascination with that book, it is definitely you and me!

All photos from "Residence", Hardie Grant Books publisher, 2011, Matt Lowden photographer.


  1. Yes,
    Thomas is right the market in Australia is very small and the idea of "having someone do your home" is not common or part of our culture. I think the USA has a population of 260 million, (correct me if I am wrong) and Australia only 20 or so million. The pie in Aus is definitely not as big. You need to be very adaptive to each and every new client, its almost makes you want to cry sometimes and at times is exhausting. I really think every designer has there own true style but I have come to realise a really good designer can see the beauty in many styles. Everyday I learn something new and after 12 years as an Australian designer dont think I will ever stop learning and wanting to better my adapting signture style.
    Thanks for the great blog post.
    Warm wishes,
    Daryl Wark

  2. Daryl, A very insightful comment. I agree that a really good designer is one who is competent working in a range of styles. A good American example is Albert Hadley. It sounds like having to be so adaptive can be a challenge, but a rewarding one at that!

  3. I have not heard of him thankful I have. Will trot on over to his website. Thank you,

  4. I'll have to check out his book! I'm always interested in how designers and architects from places other than the States work and see the world.

  5. Thank you for the introduction, I have spent some time on his website. He has a great eye and I really enjoy his range of styles.

  6. I love his use of color. The purple staircase creates a painting--stunning and courageous. Mary

  7. So exciting to see your post on Thomas Hamel he is incredibly talented and we are so lucky to have him in Aust.In fact We are going to visit our friend Thomas at his fabulous apt. next week and will post some photographs from the visit.

  8. I DO see some touches of Virginia in the photographs! Really interesting - we are big on armoires here in VA hunt country

  9. Great interiors - very traditional, yet those pops of strong color, like the eggplant staircase, these rooms some vibrancy.