Dana Tomic Hughes is an award-winning interior designer, self-described design geek, and the blogger behind Yellowtrace. Based in Australia, Dana treats visual inspiration as a truly international language, showing how people around the world express ineffable ideas with the spaces where they live. And we couldn’t agree more with Yellowtrace’s slogan: “Be fearful of mediocrity.” We met with Dana to talk design, and to get a little creative career consuling…
What’s the common thread that connects all of the great design you post on Yellowtrace?
I’ve been a practicing interior designer for nearly 14 years and I’ve always been a bit of a visual junky. I started collecting images and other references many years ago, as I discovered this really helped me with my design process.
As this library of information grew bigger, I decided to start an online space to catalogue and share my research, and to inspire other designers in their work. I truly believe that amazing talent is wasted if it’s not shared, and it’s definitely something that deserves to be celebrated.
I come across so many of amazing ideas and concepts that deciding what makes it onto the blog isn’t always easy. I take many things into consideration, but my decision is almost always made in a split second, and I rely purely on my instincts – I have to either absolutely love it, or be moved by it in some way.
We love your international perspective! Where was your favorite place that you visited in the past year?
Can I pick two? Paris because… well it’s Paris! Apart from it’s unparalleled beauty and charm, the city is absolutely packed to the brim with the most amazing history, culture, art, design, and fashion. It’s inspiration overload on so many levels!
Another favorite is Kotor, a historic coastal town on the coast of Montenegro in the secluded part of the Gulf of Kotor. It’s surrounded with impressive historic city walls and dramatic limestone cliffts of nearby mountains – it’s truly incredible. When I was two years old, I was baptized here while on holidays with my parents and my grandmother. This year I returned with my own little family and we baptized our 4 month old son in the same church in the presence of our immediate family. It was so incredibly special.
From your experience as a working designer, what qualities should someone try to nurture if he or she wants a creative career?
Any successful creative needs to have a degree of left brain/ right brain balance. One cannot be separated from the other. Designers are both logical and creative creatures.
As there are no hard and fast rules in the “creative world,” it’s important that the work of any creative feels natural, honest and authentic. As a creative you need to be brave enough to stand for something, and be willing to put yourself out there.
Okay no rules… But what are your cardinal guidelines for interior design?
Rule one – there are no rules! However, it is important to consider the context and character of any home, and access to light. These qualities will inform some of the key decisions – for example, if the room is quite dark, lighter finishes might work best. It is most important that any residential interior is designed to express the personality of owners and that it support the way they live.
The second rule is to choose pieces you absolutely love and don’t be concerned if they are from different styles and eras – vintage to modern, designer to flea market finds. This approach, when done correctly, creates an overall sense of unique character and a home that feels real.
Looking back, what Yellowtrace posts are you especially fond of?
Asking a blogger to pick their favorite post is like asking a mother to pick their favorite child! Ok, that’s probably a bit dramatic. There are so many for different reasons, but here some that stand out in my memory.
Importance of Trust. A visit to an acrobatic show became an “a-ha” moment and got me thinking about my own work. This post became a bit of a manifesto and described my utopia – a collaborative existence in which trust allows us to create fearless and extraordinary results.
Architectural Voyeurism. Examples of beautiful homes that (quite literally) provide a window into the lives of their owners.
In Between Spaces was a post about the spatial unerdog – not quite a corridor, nor a vestibule; not exactly indoor or outdoor. It’s about those transitioning spaces on-the-way-to, or in between, other more significant spaces.
How do you define great design?
Great design answers a question, offers a solution and solves a problem. Once this is achieved, only then it is made to look beautiful.
Great design is holistic. In the case of interiors, the space can affect how we feel. A great interior will speak any language, tell an amazing story, capture the essence of something, and have the ability to move people.