Early in 2008, set designer and stylist Lucy Feagins went about writing a personal design blog. A few years later and The Design Files has a life of its own. “It knows where it’s going,” says Feagins in that casual yet sprightly tone that her longtime readers adore her for. “It’s just about me keeping up with it.” Nowadays, readers flock to TDF in their thousands for their daily design fix of stunning visuals and quirky commentary.
For Feagins, the essence of TDF is hard to define. “I know what it isn’t, but to explain its identity is really difficult. There’s definitely a hyper-local focus, honing in on people or things that are made just around the corner… There’s also a strong visual focus in getting just the right imagery.”
Drawing on her creative background, Feagins has curated and photographed the vast majority of the content herself, with the occasional contribution from photographers, researchers and guest bloggers. So it was high time for this one (or two) woman show to sink its teeth into a collaboration of another kind.
“It’s about growing up,” Feagins states, in regards to the relaunch. “It was time to refresh.” To join her along the journey, Feagins enlisted the help of web builders Lettuce Digital and designers South South West. “I’ve worked with Lettuce Digital for a very long time, whereas I wanted to approach someone new to do the design, and South South West are not only extremely talented but are just really nice guys,” explains Feagins. “So it was a good personality match as well as a good design match.”
But matchmaking aside, it was the task at hand that had Feagins feeling anxious. “Most of my readers visit TDF every day – it’s part of their morning – so to change that is something I was very conscious of.” The team at South South West, or “the boys” as Feagins calls them, added something unforeseen to the mix. “I do love girly things, and I do love cute, so it was good to have a bit of boy input to shake things up.” It took time, but the team finally struck the aesthetic balance they were looking for. “The new look is still friendly, accessible, with that homemade touch, but just a bit more slick; it’s TDF all grown up.”
In keeping with TDF beginnings, “it’s all about taking baby steps,” explains Feagins when quizzed about what’s next. Currently covering a wide range, including the latest in interior design, industrial design, Australian houses, shopping guides and countless interviews, it seems that Feagins well and truly has her hands full. “I’d like to do a few more categories in the future, perhaps going a bit more into the food world.”
“Or even a few more things for the boys,” she adds, somewhat tinted by her recent collaborative brush with the male of the species. With women making up the majority of TDF readership, a more masculine presence would sure set hearts a flutter. “But it would only be just a little bit,” assures Feagins, “maybe just one per cent!”