Thomas Hamel Talks Antiques

by Liza Laserow

Thomas HamelUS born, now Sydney and LA resident interior designer Thomas Hamel. Photo by Lord Litchfield.

Why interior design? 

It must have been in my genes from birth, from a very young age I have always built miniature rooms and houses using the most unusual items and enormous imagination. I really had no second option when I was planning my university education, a career in interior design, it was meant to be.

Interest for antiques – where did it come from?

As with my passion for interior design, antiques have always been a part of a vision for me. Growing up in Virginia I was always surrounded by beautiful examples of Georgian antiques. While working at Parish Hadley in New York City, I would scour Christies and Sotheby’s catalogues most evenings.

Favourite mix of periods / styles in a room?

From my early days, simple Georgian pieces have always been on my radar and now after living in Australia for over twenty years, I like to mix antiques from more exotic origins such as Anglo-Indian and Chinese into my interiors.

How do you convince a client to purchase antiques instead of a new piece?

I am fortunate enough that most clients request that we source at least one or two pieces for a room that will have the patina and character that we all desire. It is these pieces that typically give the room the magic.

Auctions vs. dealers vs. flea markets vs. 1st Dibs?

Up until a few years ago most of our purchasing is done via auctions which entailed a constant search for ‘the right piece’. 1st Dibs has become an invaluable tool for all the designers in our firm to source incredible items from across the globe without visiting the actual locations.

Inspiration sources on how to use antiques?

I have built an incredibly large design book library which is constantly being referenced by my design team. I have also amassed over my 25 year practice tear sheets and magazine pull outs, a reference library for design inspiration which is catalogued and highly utilised by myself and the team.

You have homes both in Sydney and in LA. What are the favourite antique pieces you have place there?

In Sydney, a George III period giltwood console with an alabaster stone top, which originally came from Ditchley is a prize possession as is a Portuguese secretaire bookcase with a pagoda top (it fascinates me this Chinese influence on such an early Portuguese piece).

In Los Angeles, we have amassed a wonderful collection of Chinese and Oceanic artefacts and porcelain for which we can never have enough. Although they are many hundreds of years old, they have such contemporary forms about them.

What style / period do think will be the next trend?

Firstly I don’t usual consider trends in our work but I do see an increased interest and demand for antiques in general. The days of having a home that looks like a single vision showroom are over from what I can see with our clients, everyone wants a more individual character.

Thomas beautiful homes in Sydney and Los Angeles where he splits his time:








Thomas 5 Picks from Laserow Antiques Collection

1340228_lSwedish Baroque chest of drawers.

ORG_IMG_3726_lPair of Neoclassical / late Gustavian barrel back chairs

942332_lSwedish Rococo corner chair made during the Rococo Period bild_115_copy_3_lPair of Chinese wedding chairs made ca 1800

To see more of Thomas Hamel’s beautiful work go to: