Meet Yellowtrace founder Dana Tomić Hughes - People AU
Meet Yellowtrace founder Dana Tomić Hughes

Meet Yellowtrace founder Dana Tomić Hughes

Identified as one of the top 200 true global influencers of the design world by AD Germany, named one of the world’s most visionary female creatives by Vogue Living and described as one of the world’s most important tastemakers by Elle Décor Italia, you could say interior designer Dana Tomic Hughes has made a name for herself.

Words by Laura Barry

Interior designer Dana Tomic Hughes is a self-made woman. The civil war in Yugoslavia drove Dana to depart her hometown of Bosanski Brod at the age of 14 and, after a three-year stint living as a refugee in Denmark, she came to Sydney. Despite speaking limited English upon her arrival, she went on to study interior architecture at the University of New South Wales and graduated with honours.

After working at a number of the country’s leading studios – including as associate director of interiors at one of Australia’s oldest design firms, Bates Smart – she turned her wealth of knowledge to founding her own business, Studio Yellowtrace, in 2010.

Around this time, Dana started a blog of the same name to explore and share her passion of art, architecture, travel and design culture with like-minded design enthusiasts. The website grew to become an influential and award-winning design authority that now delivers a carefully curated selection of news, projects, products and people to a dedicated audience and a whopping social media following of more than 640,000 people across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.

Photography by Jo Duck, courtesy of JONES Magazine

“My ultimate goal has always been to deliver content that will inform, inspire and lift the level of design excellence within Australia and beyond,” Dana tells ArchiPro. “The Yellowtrace journey has been nothing short of extraordinary for myself and for the rest of my team. It’s given me a public platform that I didn’t plan… And countless extraordinary people and experiences I cherish and hope never to take for granted.”

ArchiPro has partnered with Yellowtrace to film a series of round-table discussions with some of Australia’s best-known architects and designers. In the first episode of Practice Notes, Dana sits down with Ian Moore of Ian Moore Architects; Domenic Alvaro, Global Design Director at Woods Bagot; Eva-Marie Prineas of Studio Prineas; and David Flack of Flack Studio to talk about the value architects and designers can bring to projects of all kinds.

I want our audience to think of Yellowtrace as the fountain that will nourish their eyes, their minds and their spirits, and ultimately feed their design practice

On a mission to inspire

In the beginning, Dana’s role was aggregating content onto Yellowtrace pages, but that role has transformed into one of guardianship as a result of the proliferation of online content, and protecting her readers’ time is paramount. 

“Our audience puts a huge amount of trust in Yellowtrace so I feel privileged to be granted permission to spend time with them each day. I make sure Yellowtrace is a space that cares about our audience and is a source they can trust to inspire, that will share new discoveries, that will make them think and see things differently,” says Dana.

We use spellbinding imagery and evocative language as a constant, but the content is quite varied.

As for Studio Yellowtrace, the traditional interior design firm has evolved into a multi-disciplinary business that specialises in design and communication strategy, storytelling, content creation and special projects.

Dana has established herself as a reliable industry expert with a reputation for being ahead of the trends, and is now a sought-after speaker, consultant, lecturer and writer, and has even served as a judge for a number of design awards in Australia and internationally, such as the annual Editor’s Choice Awards at Stockholm Furniture Fair.

“Staying at the forefront of the design world globally is not only the essence of my self-created ‘job’, it’s my absolute passion and it directly speaks to the Yellowtrace mission, which is to inform our audience of the very best things happening in the world of design,” says Dana. “I’m also a trained interior designer who very much ended up in this position by accident. As such, I have an innate understanding of what other designers are looking for, which is reflected in our content.”

Photography by Jo Duck, courtesy of JONES Magazine

For lovers of design

Although the Yellowtrace audience almost reads like a directory of creative talent, Dana has always wanted it to be accessible to any design-lover regardless of their experience within the industry. “Good design should reach a much wider audience than just the professionals,” says Dana.

“Australian Design is at a really exciting point and is very much developing its own identity, and our community now feels more globally connected; I personally think that Australian design is of an exceptionally high standard,” Dana tells ArchiPro.

“In some ways, this is because to create amazing things we have to work that much harder than our European peers, perhaps, because we can’t stay informed simply by catching a train to Milan for Salone del Mobile, or Venice to the Biennale, to Paris for Maison et Objet.

“Staying informed takes a real effort and it means that as a nation we’ve cultivated a community of seriously high-achieving, hard-working designers.”

The first episode of Practice Notes, a collaboration between ArchiPro and Yellowtrace, is out now! Watch the highlights below. Want to see more? Head over to Yellowtrace to watch the full episode.

Recommended reading