'DESIGNER TALKS HOME' INTERVIEW SERIES: THOMAS HAMEL
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What drew you to the architectural and design industry? Is that original fascination still alive within you today?I was always drawn to the design/ architectural profession. Growing up in Virginia I spent all my play time creating homes and furnishing them in all various mediums and then I thought nothing of destroying them and starting the creative process again. Of course I then spent a great deal of time designing various features and details for my own home and bedroom. This fascination continues today where a relaxing weekend is usually spent designing or redesigning my own home or office or doing a project for someone else. Even to arrive in a hotel or rented villa on holiday, first thing I like to do is move the furniture into what I think is logical positions.
Tell us about your typical day (at work and at home).
Typically my days contain a great deal of work but since I actually enjoy what I do, it is not a problem. This career is all in the intimate details and they take a lot of time to organize. When I am at home in Sydney, Australia the time in the office is usually from 7.30 am till about 7 pm. The early morning is to speak to American clients and suppliers, the late afternoon is for the British and European connections as they are waking up. There are always many questions that need clarification from the staff when I am in town. Otherwise, I am traveling a great deal.
I visit Melbourne, Australia usually twice a month for two days each visit. I do the rounds of all the clients there and find shopping time as well. Then for my overseas trips which occur approximately 4 times a year, I purchase round the world air tickets and map out to visit the jobs in Europe and the States in a progression. The clients enjoy this system as they can share costs and know they are getting my uninterrupted attention when i am with them. The problem is now with global communication, I then have to work double shifts as I then have to answer all questions coming out of Australia before going to bed.
In your opinion, what are the key challenges in designing a residence?
Key challenges in designing a residence to me include really making the clients a big part of the process all the way through the project. They mostly love the interaction and the input. This makes for more successful projects as very little is left to the imagination. I want them to understand from the beginning just what we will be delivering in the end. I then also try to anticipate all the finishing touches that will be required and have them ready when we are completing the project. There is nothing worse than un-accessorized interior. It's like an under baked cake really.
Tell us about your own home.
My apartment is obviously my experimental grounds, I love trying new things and it is the perfect way to eventually show clients things they would be too scared to try on their own. Once they see the results in my home they are much likelier to try themselves.
A few examples of this are my black Venetian plaster walls in the entrance hall, my use of upholstered walls in Bedrooms, use of paneled walls in the Sitting room, using sisal carpeting with antiques to play down the grandeur, and my fondness for four poster beds. As I am always traveling and finding new accessories I always have too many items to display so I carefully edit and put things away or sell them to clients who are always happy to receive my 'hand me downs'.
As an architect/ designer, what do you think defines an inviting home?
An inviting home or residence has an instant appeal upon entering it. It usually belongs to people who are confident in themselves and it should reveal a bit about their personality, passions and interests. There should be a story told from their surroundings. There should always be a level of comfort, hence I am not a great believer in sofas and beds low to the floor that are difficult to use.