Berry Liberman on Lucy Feagins
The unofficial mission statement of The Design Files is “everything we do should be done in the spirit of generosity.” That about sums up Lucy Feagins, the gentle and hard-working woman behind one of the most influential and loved design websites in Australia and the world. With a million hits per month, it has grown from an intimate blog and labour of love into an institution with a cult following.
Every day for six years, Lucy has uploaded a new home or project profile, writing most of the words and styling all of the shots. She’s an unbelievably humble powerhouse who is both singularly focused and simultaneously fluid about where The Design Files is heading. It’s one of those rare, well-curated online spaces you can rely on. I’m really curious to know how a frustrated film set decorator becomes the doyenne of the interiors world.
I head down to the hip neighbourhood of Collingwood in Melbourne. Everyone is dressed with an intense sense of personal style and the coffee is serious. Standing outside an old, scruffy building is Lucy, all smiles, excited to show me the empty warehouse within. She’s just taken out a lease on what will be the new design hub of Melbourne. Her vision is to locate The Design Files within a space that acts as a showcase for local designers, artists and makers. Design Files Open House all year round. It’s a typically inclusive move for Lucy and I’m struck by her nervousness—will it work? It is too ambitious?
Lucy reflects, with great humility, upon her success. The Design Files began with no grand plan or strategic analysis. Lucy was a self-described “amateur enthusiast.” Her friends liked what she was doing and they told their friends who in turn told their friends. And so it goes on the internet when you strike a chord.
With the idea of home being challenged around the globe, when war, famine, drought and disease are shifting borders and tearing people from their homes, how do we celebrate and revel in the good fortune of our spaces? What makes a home? What makes community? How do we create beautiful and safe spaces where creativity can flourish and our families and loved ones can find solace from a fast-paced, crazy world? That’s what I go to The Design Files for, to be inspired to create more meaningful spaces.
As we sit down to coffee in the chic Japanese café CIBI in Collingwood, where every detail feels thoughtful and intimate, Lucy is a bit frantic. In the last six months she has gotten married, sold her home, moved in with her husband to her mother’s place and rented a new, very large space to house the future of The Design Files. It’s made her reflective and nervous. Change is in the air.