Thomas Hamel on Design & Eclecticism

In The Collector’s Auction on 22 June in Sydney, we look at eclectic collecting and ways to celebrate the unexpected by pairing the antique with the modern. The auction features property from the collection of the master of “new-old” himself, Thomas Hamel (lots 199–214). An American-born and internationally recognised interior designer who is at the helm of celebrated Sydney-based design firm, Thomas Hamel & Associates, Thomas’ design ethos perfectly encapsulates what the Collector’s Auction in June is all about; a cross-pollination of timeless, international styles edited with sophistication and good taste.

We asked Thomas to share some insights into his practice and design philosophy, and to style our Sydney saleroom with pieces from the collection, just as he would one of his design projects.


Can you tell us a little about yourself and your work?


I was born in Virginia and from a young age I wanted to be part of the interior design industry. Following my dream, I moved to New York during the 80’s to study design at the Fashion Institute of Technology, continuing my studies at the American College in London. Upon graduation, I was fortunate to land a job with the world-renowned New York design firm Parish-Hadley, where I developed a sense of timeless tradition that remains a hallmark of my style. I moved to Australia in 1991 and founded my own business, Thomas Hamel & Associates. I have regularly (until now!) travelled the globe in search of inspiration and to source furniture, art and objects of interest for my clients. I like to collect and enjoy combining diverse cultural influences within interiors. It is this “cross-pollination” and “intelligent editing” that have become driving forces behind my global design aesthetic.
Thomas Hamel & Associates works primarily on high end residential projects. We enjoy working in tandem with architects, builders and other professionals to create unique spaces. Equally important is accessorising and furnishing existing residences, with an aim to making every square metre a well used and beautiful space. A timeless sense of style, combined with a strong consideration for proportion and good design, and avoiding fashions and gimmickry in decoration is our point of difference.



Do you remember how you first discovered Leonard Joel?

Having collaborated with Martyn Cook of Martyn Cook Antiques since 1991, I have been aware of Leonard Joel since my arrival in Australia. We frequently visited auctions in Melbourne and have found many incredible items over the years.



How do you start your design process when you have a key item or feature that you need to work with?

When a client comes to us with a certain family possession or favourite piece they want to incorporate, we’ll always make it work. A home is a reflection of those who will live in that space, and it is important to retain that feel. Adding the correct layers that complement a client’s existing pieces is an important part of what we can offer.

Do you have any specific rules you live by when it comes to curating a collection of objects for a room/house?

I always tell my clients, “If you fall in love with something – buy it”. We will always find a space for it. Your home is your story. Also, every project should have a basket or something handwoven in it!

Is there a specific piece from the Hamel+Farrell collection that you have a particular fondness for?

I’ve always loved the Modules coffee table. Inspired by Dylan, former Creative Director of Thomas Hamel & Associates, it reflects cutting a chocolate in half and exposing the unique centres. They can be used individually or grouped together to create a unique piece in any space.



And lastly, any word of advice for the new custodians of your pieces?

Enjoy them! Remember the moment and feeling you had when you realised that a certain piece you love was destined to be part of your home and your life, and then you will have a memory or story to tell for years to come. One’s home should be full of memories evoked from each and every piece, souvenirs.

June 2021