Twenty-nine-year-old James Dawson is a comparative newcomer to the industry.

James Dawson skirted for some years as Australian and New Zealand distributor for Parisian homewares brands Moustache and Domestic, but is beginning to make waves, recently being awarded two accolades at the Housing Industry Association (HIA) Qld’s Renovate and Build Expo.

“I loved rearranging different spaces around my family home with my mum when I was growing up,” says Dawson. “As a teenager my hobby was visiting secondhand stores looking for chairs and things I could reupholster and sell to family and friends – it was hilarious looking back!”

Launching his interior design practice three years ago, Dawson’s outlook is one of fierce independence, with little weight given to his formal education and its impact on his success.

“I like my work to speak for itself and I want any work to be its own piece,” he says.

One of the two winning projects at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre for the HIA expo, Dawson’s living room installation, won judges’ choice.

“My idea was to show how you can maximise a small apartment. I don’t think having a small space you should be restricted to the norms of small furniture. That’s what I do a lot, is manipulate space,” he says.

“I really don’t pay attention to what other designers are doing…I don’t want to be influenced.”

Another surprise package was the designer’s second installation, an outdoor bathroom created as a fun and quirky space that left show-goers pondering whether they could have a wood-panelled, vertically planted, up-lit, Nordic-looking bathhouse setting in their home.

It was the first bathroom design the HIA expo had seen in seven years and a show-stopper, earning Dawson the viewers’ choice award.

“I’m inspired by fashion and architecture, I spent a lot of time in Paris,” says Dawson.

A recent renovation in St Lucia is testament to a creative vision that sees beauty in opportunity. When contacted by a young professional to breathe life into his 1980s brick apartment, Dawson set about transforming the space into a light, modern home with warmth.

“I didn’t want to make it too heavy. Adding little bits of brick and wood really just brought in warmth but the home still looks fresh and light.”

A more high-end upgrade to a tired kitchen in Kenmore saw the incorporation of Pakistani marble into a space that has gone from cluttered and dark to exuding chic sophistication.

“The overall feeling was really elegant, soft, with lots of ambient lighting, beautiful wood-grain cabinetry finished with marble, and half bi-fold windows over the back bench which opened over the pool area,” says Dawson. “That was one of my favourite projects.”


As seen in bmag issue 263