5 minutes with Tom Mark Henry

5 Minutes with Cushla McFadden & Jade Nottage


What is the signature Tom Mark Henry style? 

Every brief we take on is unique, so the result every time is different as we are responding to the site, environment, budget, client goals, and expectations.  What is consistent throughout our projects is attention to detail and delivering something unexpected. We are of the mantra, if the clients can do it themselves, they would. They have come to us to push themselves out of the box, and to get something they could never have achieved on their own so we always try to push our designs in this eay. This could be a layering of unexpected materials, an intriguing joinery detail, or interesting lighting and furniture combinations. We balance this with a refined and polished finish, ensuring the craftsmanship is always of the highest quality. CM


How did the two of you meet and what drove you to open your own studio?

We met at university, studying a Bachelor of Interior Architecture. We formed a close friendship during our 5 years at uni together, after which time Jade pursued a career in Sydney, and Cushla moved to New York. Upon returning from New York, rather than seek out a new job, we decided to start our own studio. We worked hard to get where we were so we wanted agency over our careers. CM


We are working on a very exciting project together, could you share what it is and what people can expect upon completion? 

We are very close to opening an exciting Italian venue. People can expect a rich and layered design, not at all a “traditional” Italian fit out. The design is playful in colour and materiality. CM


How do you think the hospitality industry has evolved over the past few years? And What do you think the future of hospitality will look like?

This is an interesting question to consider, particularly in light of how Covid has greatly impacted the hospitality industry. 

I do think there will be a greater respect for the experience of dining out among friends and loved ones. From what I’ve seen, venues have embraced the new conditions imposed on trading, such as spaced out tables and limited number of guests at any one time, making up for this with attentive service and an intimate experience at the table. No doubt more takeaway options will be considered, however nothing really compares to going out, so I think that experience will be elevated as people seek physical connection and interaction. CM


Given the current climate have you noticed a big shift towards the integration of technology in your designs? 

Certainly in our workplace projects we’ve noticed this, there has been a much bigger emphasis on ensuring each meeting room (regardless of size) is equipped with AV equipment, in a way usually reserved for the big boardrooms. JN

How important is ensuring that the furniture in a venue/restaurant is fit for purpose? Generally speaking, what do you look for when specifying for a hospitality project? 

Incredibly important! Getting appropriate and fit for purpose furniture is critical to the success of a hospitality project and is very much a priority for us when specifying. We look for products with good warranty periods, durable material that won’t easily chip or scratch and the appropriate rub counts on all upholstered items. JN


What is the first international city you will travel to post Covid-19?

Milan- we were booked to go in April this year to Salone de Mobile but goes without saying that didn’t happen! Cushla and I were going with our colleague Carla, to celebrate her 5 years at TMH, so as soon as we can get overseas that trip will be our first priority.JN


What are some things that Covid-19 has taught you in your personal and work life? 

So much…that we are more adaptive then we ever knew possible and that when faced with adversity we are able to thrive! TMH adjusted really seamlessly to the working from home arrangement, we kept up with deadlines and ensured communication between all team members and clients was a priority. However, we also learnt how much we took for granted those small little chats to resolve a design problem in person or ask about someone’s weekend in the kitchen; those interactions we never even focused on. Moving forward, TMH is finding a happy balance of working from home and time in the studio, the new normal. JN


Most treasured piece of furniture you own? 

My 811 TON dining chairs! They were always my number 1 pick, so when I purchased my new home, I treated myself to them. JN


Image: Jade Nottage

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