Dana Tomic Hughes, the designer behind the yellowtrace blog

Interior designer and blogger Dana Tomic Hughes takes a holistic approach to design with a style which is eclectic and “high on personality”.

Dana was Associate Director of Interiors at Bates Smart before going out on her own with her company yellowtrace in 2008, later starting the successful blog of the same name.

“During my time at Bates Smart I was responsible for some of the most wonderful projects varying in scale and complexity – from quirky advertising agencies and residential interiors, to one of the biggest and most prestigious fitouts in the country for Sydney’s largest law firm,” she says. In June this year, Dana decided it was time to take the plunge and focus on yellowtrace full-time. “With my strong conceptual design focus, relentless desire to push boundaries and challenge the conventional, I was keen to share my passion for design and conceptual thinking with both clients and collaborators. yellowtrace allows me to do this on a more personal level with my clients, which is how I really like to work.”

Dana says: “My design philosophy is based on a holistic approach, which translates brands, ideas and my clients’ personalities, into places. Each project begins with a strong concept, which becomes an anchor for all ideas during the design process.” She collaborates with a network of freelancers to assemble the best team for any job.

So, what’s in the name? ”Yellowtrace is a soft tone transparent sketch paper used by architects and designers for concept drawings and sketches. I go through kilometres of yellowtrace when starting any project – it is where most of my ideas and concepts are born before they are developed into final designs and built forms. I thought this was a really nice link between my design process and a name for a design practice and a design blog.”

The blog started at the beginning of last year. “As a designer, I’ve always been a bit of a visual junky,” says Dana. “As most designers are, I am a highly visual person who is really inspired by beautiful imagery. I started collecting images of interior spaces and interior products many years ago as I discovered that they really helped me with my design process. They are also a fantastic way to communicate my ideas to clients.

“At first I had a small number of images I used to turn to regularly, but very quickly I realised that I needed a broader point of reference, as any good designer draws inspiration from anything and everything. My constant search for inspiration and images grew my library of information and I got hungrier and hungrier the more I uncovered. So you see I needed an online space where I could catalogue and share all of this research.”

Dana’s also interested in how other designers approach their work and she felt there weren’t enough local blogs and forums written by designers that focused on both Australian and international talent. “Design can be a solitary activity, although its success relies heavily on healthy critique, discussion, and input of others,” she says. “I’ve often felt that designers, architects and creative people don’t always share what they are doing, and we can also be very critical of each other’s work. I wanted to create a space where great work can be celebrated and where other designers could gain invaluable insight into the processes of their peers through regular interviews. At the same time, I’m keen to educate readers about the importance of well thought out and inspiring design, and also make good design accessible to not just design professionals, but also the general public – all with a healthy dose of humour.”

Dana describes her personal interior style as eclectic and high in personality. “Our home is comfortable, unpretentious and inviting with a real of mix pieces from different eras – vintage to modern, designer to junk, achieving an overall sense of unique character and carefully considered balance.

“Our apartment is a constant work in progress and it very much responds to the way Husband and I live, who we are as individuals and as a couple. White walls, high ornate ceilings, well designed furniture, pure and clean forms allow us to layer in bold patterns and collected objects which add an element of fun and personality, and evoke memories of travel and the everyday.”


In part 2 tomorrow, more on the success of the blog, the best and worst bits of being an interior designer, who Dana admires and what makes a good designer.


  1. Keith Dennis says

    Can you tell me where I could find out further information about the sofa pictured in the article in the Financial Review insert Life and Leisure last weekend.