All things Design with Tom Mark Henry Directors
We recently had the pleasure of chatting to Cushla McFadden and Jade Nottage, the directors of Tom Mark Henry, a leading Australian design studio based in Darlinghurst, Sydney. Founded in 2014, the creative team utilise their broad range of skills in interior design, architecture and business to produce inspiring and highly-awarded designs in residential, commercial, retail and hospitality spaces.
In this article, Cushla and Jade share their views about their process, the future of design and the important role women play in the design, building and construction industry. Enjoy!
1. Tom Mark Henry (TMH) has completed some beautiful work. Aesthetically, the designs are elegant and simple yet all different from each other. How do you come up with a design concept for a project?
Cushla: We start by really getting to know the client to understand how we can best help them and produce the best outcome for the project. We ask lots of questions if the client is not sure, and if the client knows what they want, then we listen.
2. Is there a particular process that takes place when doing this?
Cushla: Generally, this takes place in the form of one or two meetings with the client, perhaps in our office or on-site, where we walk through their requirements. We then go away and do our own research and come back to the client with our interpretation of their brief and initial direction for the project to ensure we are on the same page.
3. Has your design style changed over the last few years? If so, how has it evolved?
Cushla: We are constantly learning and evolving, so with each new project comes new insights. We don’t necessarily have a ‘style’ as every project is so unique, but we are continually putting into practice new ways of combining materials, different joinery details and junctions or using new finishes and lighting that we haven’t seen before. I guess we take more risks as we gain more experience.
4. What is your favourite natural material to work with and why?
Cushla: One of our favourite and most versatile natural materials to work with is stone. There are so many variations and different ways of using it, from classic white Carrara marble to ‘out there’ types of unique marble like Calcutta viola as seen in our project 1888 Certified.
5. How do you handle resistance by clients, especially when you’re passionate about a particular design?
Cushla: We are not precious about our designs. If the client is not happy then ultimately, it is not meeting their brief. We’re only satisfied if the client is thrilled. If there is major resistance, we know we need to come up with something different, rather than pushing a particular design. If there is a little uncertainty about an area we are passionate about, then we will, of course, guide the client in the direction we feel the project should take. It is a constant process of problem-solving to work through every design decision.
6. What has been your favourite TMH project and why?
Cushla: We don’t have a favourite, however, it is always nice when a project is recognised by our peers. Some examples of these are Bondi’s Best, 1888 Certified, Dead Ringer and Bondi Residence.
7. Can you name a few favourite local and international industrial designers that TMH likes to regularly use?
Cushla: We love collaborating with talented joiners and local craftsmen, such as Jonathan West, Alma Lighting, Studio Ham and Articolo. Internationally, we love the work of designers Atelier de Troupe, Allied Maker and Matter Made, all based in New York.
8. Are there any exciting TMH projects on the horizon that you can share with us?
Cushla: We have a very exciting workplace project we are working on, but unfortunately we can’t say much more about that at this stage! We also have lots of retail projects in the works, an underground rustic Italian bar and restaurant and a handful of high-end residential houses and apartments.
9. Where does TMH draw inspiration from?
Cushla: We are inspired by our peers – both locally and internationally – who are making leaps and bounds in the design industry. We also draw inspiration from expanding our environment; travelling, getting out to see suppliers and artists, visiting exhibitions. It is important to get ourselves out of our comfort zone to gain new perspectives and apply these to our designs.
10. Who are your favourite Australian interior designers right now and why?
Jade: There are so many Australian design companies doing beautiful work so it’s hard to pick a favourite! We recently saw Carr Design Group talk about their process designing Jackalope which was so inspiring. That project is amazing. We love every part of it.
11. Who would you love to collaborate with on a project and why?
Jade: We would love to collaborate with Amber Road on a project. They are so creative and do such beautiful work, full of texture and depth. We would love to see how they work and experience their process. We used to work in the same shared office space many moons ago, so perhaps we can make this happen!
12. Is there an international city that inspires some of your design ideas? Why?
Jade: New York City. It’s so full of life and vibrancy. Expression of thought and feeling is everywhere you turn; a never-ending source of inspiration for any creative person.
13. Being women in the building and construction industry is empowering and exciting, but challenging at times too. What parts of the industry would you like to see the change from a female perspective?
Jade: There are parts of the construction industry that require a change to create equality for women. It would be amazing to see more women take leadership roles in construction management and in the building process itself. However, from our perspective, in the interior design world, women are definitely treated as equals and we feel we gain respect from trades and builders because of our skill, rather than it being a gender issue.
14. What is the most valuable thing you’ve learned as a female in the property industry?
Jade: As female designers, we have learnt to back ourselves; our education, ability and hard work. It shouldn’t come down to gender. It should be about the best company/person for the job; a reward for dedication to our craft.
15. Both designers and consumers are becoming more ethically aware. Where do you believe design is heading in the future with relation to this?
Jade: Our entire design team is very ethical; half of us are vegetarian! We believe that an ethical approach to life should be implemented, which of course flows into the design world. Sustainable and ethical design is the way forward we as designers, can lead this by educating people about how beautiful spaces don’t have to leave damaging footprints.
We hope you enjoyed our chat with Jade and Cushla as much as we enjoyed talking to them! Take some time to check out TMH’s gorgeous mood board in our Mood Me page. It focuses on one of their current high-end residential projects. If you’d like to know more about TMH’s work, head over to their website.
Feature by @millamaria8
Copyright © of Casper & Casper 25.5.2018