Q&A With Jamie Drake
May 4, 2015
By Kyle Hoepner
Jamie Drake isn’t likely to require an introduction for anyone reading a design blog such as this one. He has long been a fixture on lists of the top interior designers practicing today, known especially for his supreme assurance when deploying vibrant color in his boldly graphic rooms. He himself describes his visual style as “bold, urbane, informed, and sophisticated, with a sense of wit.”
Jamie Drake’s living room for House Beautiful’s 2013 Designer Visions showhouse. Photo by Jonny Valiant
Drake will be one of the guest speakers this Thursday, May 7, at the Wakefield Design Center in Stamford, Connecticut, discussing the translation of his signature interiors style into distinctive product lines he has created for a number of prominent manufacturers. He was kind enough to spend a few minutes with me on the phone recently, in advance of his Connecticut appearance.
Designer Jamie Drake
Kyle Hoepner: Your upcoming talk in Stamford will be about how your interior design aesthetic influences your designs for furniture, lighting, rugs, accessories, and so on. Can you give us a quick taste of what you’ll cover?
Jamie Drake: Many designers wonder, “How do I get into the product arena and the licensing arena? What are the complexities? Is it possible?” I will give some straight answers about that. I will be showing some of my interiors, I will be showing some sketches of initial product development, and then on to finer sketches and all the way to finished product. Hopefully the common threads will—you might say—weave themselves into a beautiful licensed rug or textile of understanding!
Temple Garden Rug, by Jamie Drake for Safavieh
KH: Is this talk in connection with a particular new collection?
JD: I’ll be talking about a number of collections, such as my bath accessories for Labrazel, my lighting for Boyd, rugs for Stark and Safavieh, and of course my furniture collection for Theodore Alexander (which I hope will be out on the floor at the design center—we’re working on getting some stuff up there!).
The Topanga II sconce, created by Jamie Drake for Boyd Lighting
KH: Almost every reference I’ve ever seen to you and your work includes the word “color.” Just to be contrary, I’d like to ask: what are the elements of design that mean the most to you other than color?
JD: Color is only one tool in my toolbox, because my work is just as much about shape, proportion, appropriateness, surprise, and juxtaposition as it is about color. I think one must look at a composition with all of the aspects in mind, not just the paint palette, not just the colors.
A fixture from the Profil line by Jamie Drake for THG
KH: When I look at, say, your bath fixture designs for THG, it’s really the shapes that immediately jump out, and not necessarily the finishes, which can differ…
JD: And I think it’s the same if you look at my furniture for Theodore Alexander. Although I’ve shown the upholstered pieces in some seasons clad in vibrant fabrics, some of the pieces (such as the Venus sofa or the Montaigne chair) are about the form, first and foremost, and they live and breathe as beautifully in a muted neutral as they do in a vibrant color.
Jamie Drake’s Venus Sofa for Theodore Alexander
The Ashleigh Console/Desk, also from Jamie Drake’s furniture collection for Theodore Alexander
KH: Your book New American Glamour came out ten years ago, in 2005. Would you say there have been notable changes to your outlook since then?
JD: I think there has been a progression toward ever more assuredness in the way I put things together, and a more relaxed nature. The other thing one would notice if one went back to the book would be that there were quite a few traditional projects in it—and we really don’t do many of those anymore.
Lotus bath accessories by Jamie Drake for Labrazel
KH: Finally, I notice that we’ve ended up with a sort of hidden subtext to Thursday’s programs, one that came up almost inadvertently as plans evolved. John Douglas Eason, Harry Heismann, and Charles Pavarini will be there with author Stephen Stolman, to talk about the new book 40 Years of Fabulous, which chronicles the history of the Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse. And, it turns out, you are doing a space at Kips Bay this year—and so are the two talented young women from Tilton Fenwick, who will also be speaking on Thursday. Are you willing to share a preview of your room?
JD: Here’s a teaser…the rendering of my vision for the foyer.
Sketch of Jamie Drake’s foyer design for the 2015 Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse
KH: Thank you so much, Jamie, and I look forward to seeing you on Thursday!
Wakefield Design Center
To The Trade Only Market Day
Thursday, May 7, 2015