“My father was an interior architect in New York, where I was born and raised. I literally grew up in a playroom that had a 2.5 metre long drafting board in it, prepared for the large-scale interior renderings that were one of my father’s specialties,” says interior designer Dylan Farrell of his early life that proved fertile ground for a future in design.
Dylan’s father came from the school of mid-century modern architecture and wrote several books on art, design and design practice and as a teenager Dylan worked alongside his father giving him invaluable exposure to running a small design business. “My grandparents also owned and ran a specialty art gallery and supply store so art and design were a part of every fibre of my upbringing, whether I wanted it that way or not,” says Dylan.
But the designer’s path wasn’t a typical one – a self-confessed “rebellious youth,” he found himself dabbling in street art and singing and writing for an industrial rock band in the mid-nineties before enrolling in industrial design at the prestigious Pratt Institute in New York. But for him, formal study certainly wasn’t an instant love affair.
“By the end of my freshman year, I was failing design school, despite a blessed exposure to and training in art and design. My focus at the time was simply in other places – mainly fine art, music composition, performance, and the resulting party that always ensued. By the second half of my five years of study however, I turned a corner and started to see glimpses of the practitioner I wanted to be, graduating with honours,” says Dylan.
Dylan’s unique journey continued after university when he took a job in antique restoration and acquisition which he juggled alongside a job teaching architectural drawing at Pratt Institute’s school of interior design. “The flexibility of these two positions allowed me to take on the oddest of additional jobs, all the while continuing to pursue music and fine art,” says Dylan who nonetheless continued to build relationships with prominent New York interior and furniture designers, contacts that would prove important in the years to come.
“I found myself at a crossroads of sorts – deciding whether I wanted to live the life of an artistic gypsy or find roots in a more focused endeavour. It was exactly at this time when I met my wife and now business partner, Nicolette, who was an interior designer,” says Dylan. The couple worked independently and collaboratively for several years in New York before moving to Sydney in 2009 where Dylan became Creative Principal at Thomas Hamel & Associates. He and Thomas even designed a furniture range, Hamel Farrell Collection, together. Dylan started his own practice almost three years ago.
And despite less than three years trading under his own name, he has been turning heads in the Australian design world of late with many accolades coming his way. “We are finalists in the 2019 Andrew Martin Interior Design Review and the winners will be announced in December. And last week, we were handed the Emerging Design Star award in the 2019 Belle Coco Republic Interior Design Awards,” says Dylan.
As for his aesthetic, he believes that ‘classical proportions’ and ‘technical detail’ are hallmarks of his work, but he thinks a hefty dose of fun and curiosity are paramount too. “I find style should be akin to enjoying food. I would not want Italian every night; I wouldn’t want to live without vegetables; and although I was vegetarian for many years, I would not want to completely give up meat. So why not traditional design on Tuesdays, modernism on Wednesdays, post-mod on Thursday, and a party platter on Fridays?” he says, which sounds fabulous to me!