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Thomas Hamel is renowned for creating elegant interiors for Sydney's movers and shakers, from political dynasties like the Turnbulls and the Wrans to stars like Russell Crowe.
Enter his own penthouse apartment in the city's CBD and you're transported to a world of timeless grace, with sofas so plump that sitting down on them is like falling into clouds. In moody corners, soft lamp light gives a glow to polished antiques and hand-carved artefacts. The effect is powerful, not in a show-off way but in the warm, serene mood it creates.
It's a skill the softly spoken US-born designer honed at the side of the late, legendary designer Albert Hadley at New York firm Parish-Hadley. Moving to Australia just over 20 years ago may not have seemed a logical career move, but Hamel has carved out an enviable niche here, flitting between projects in Sydney, Melbourne, the US and Europe. And then there's his own range of high-end furniture and hand-printed fabrics at his showroom, Residence, tailored to the design trade.
The objects in Hamel's apartment are a blend of rare antiques and tribal carvings he displays on wicker baskets. "No matter how grand a house, it should have some wicker, some texture," he says. "I mix the natural in with the glamorous, so it doesn't seem too precious."
Photography Vanessa Levis
From Sunday Life