June 4, 2009

DesignTies welcomes “The King of Colour”, Jamie Drake

JD_headshot_5x5_300dpi“I love what I do. I love style in every form. There is nothing more exciting than incorporating bold, vibrant colours with a striking mix of genres and periods to create lively, magical spaces that inhabit memories and enrich lives.” ~ Jamie Drake

This week (and every other week!!), I’m totally hooked on the bold and colourful interior design work of Jamie Drake. If you’re a regular visitor to interior design and decorating blogs, you’ve no doubt seen Jamie Drake’s work. Pictures of rooms that Jamie has designed have been appearing in posts all around the blogosphere. His diverse clientele includes Madonna and the mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg. His rooms have been featured on HGTV’s Top 10 and graced the covers of many leading interior design magazines…

Mag Connecticut Mag Elle DecorMag House Garden

Mag Met Home Mag House BeautifulMag Interior Design

And this week, it’s our turn to add some Jamie Drake colour to DesignTies!! Here’s just a small sampling of Jamie’s rooms to get started…

Jamie Drake Flatiron 6

Jamie Drake Flatiron 7

Jamie Drake Flatiron 8

Jamie Drake Flatiron 2

Jamie Drake Flatiron 5

Are you hooked now?! Then keep reading to learn more about Jamie — read what he has to say about being an interior designer, pick up some of his design tips, and see lots more of his fabulous rooms :-)

About Jamie…

Jamie Drake House beautiful 2Jamie’s design career began when he was “always put in charge of ‘decorating and antiques’ when we built forts as kids”. (Although it may have started even earlier — more on that a bit later!) During his high school years, Jamie interned at the Connecticut firm Lubin Business Interiors. He later worked with Angelo Donghia during vacations while he attended New York’s Parsons School of Design.

Jamie opened his own design firm Drake Design Associates in New York City immediately after he graduated from Parsons School of Design in 1978 with a BA in Environmental Design.

drake logo

Some of Jamie’s awards and accolades include the 2000 D & D Designers of Distinction Award and being inducted into the Interior Design Hall of Fame in 2003. While he was the Vice President of the American Society of Interior Designers' New York chapter in the mid-1990s, Jamie received the organization's Presidential Citation and Platinum Award.

All that being said… you can probably imagine my excitement when Jamie agreed to do an interview with me for DesignTies!!

Please say Hello to “The King of Colour”, Jamie Drake…

When you start a new design project, how do you decide what colours to use? Do the homeowners tell you what colours they like/want, or are you inspired to select a colour scheme based on the homeowner's personality and the home or room that you’re designing?

My point of departure when selecting a palette is usually a compilation of what the clients’ preferences are, and what I intuitively hear the space saying.

Jamie Drake West Chelsea 5 Jamie Drake West Chelsea 6

There’s a saying “blue and green must never be seen”. Is there a colour combination that you would never use? And do you have a favourite colour combination?

I don’t feel there is any colour combo that is verboten. It all depends on how the colours are combined, the overall balance, and the weighting of colours in a space. I don’t have a favourite combination, what I love are the endless possibilities the rainbow presents.

Jamie Drake Manhattan 5 Jamie Drake West Chelsea 3 Jamie Drake West Chelsea 4

You often use many colours in one room. Can there ever be too many colours in a room?

I usually prefer one dominant colour, one secondary colour, and often a third colour thrown in for spice. There could be too many colours in a room, if not applied with a painterly hand.

Jamie Drake Fifth Ave 1

What inspired you to create the completely pink bedroom for the 2007 Kips Bay project?

My 2007 Kips Bay room was inspired by my then just launched fabric collection for Schumacher, as well as my furniture line with Lewis Mittman. I designed the room for an imagined strong, feminine woman, one who might (or might not) invite her lover to share her boudoir. Shades of orchid, and magenta were accented by sharp dashes of purple, clear doses of white, and a calming underlay of lavender tinged pigeon grey.

Jamie Drake kips bay 2007 2Jamie Drake kips bay 2007 4 Jamie Drake kips bay 2007 5 Jamie Drake kips bay 2007 7 kips bay 1

The colour scheme in the boathouse in Connecticut is quite subdued compared to most of your designs. Why did you choose this subtler colour scheme?

With sweeping views of the rocky Connecticut shoreline, I chose a more subdued palette for this client’s retreat.

7 Jamie Drake 3

The “boathouse” as its been dubbed, was built as an entertaining and retreat outbuilding on a client’s coastal compound. The colours of moss, lichen, and sky are used against a neutral background and a mottled ochre toned polished concrete floor.

7 Jamie Drake 1 7 Jamie Drake 2

Have you seen any all-white rooms that you like?

I’ve seen so many all white rooms that I have loved over the years, from the work of Michael Gabellini to Lee Mindel, Syrie Maugham to Frances Elkins. I would love to do an all-white house for a client, but alas, they come to me for colour!

shelton mindel assoc

When you see an all-white room, do you get the urge to hang colourful artwork on the walls and toss bright cushions on the sofa and slap a coat of orange paint on the walls?

Only if it is painfully uninspired. If its filled with beautiful textures, thoughtful details and the like I can be entranced as the next minimalist.

About being an interior designer

Jamie’s New York City apartmentJamie Drake Fifth Ave 2

When did you first know that you wanted to be a designer?

I’ve been told it was at birth in the hospital. I am rumoured to have cried in horror at the dreadful décor and unflattering lighting.

Jamie Drake Fifth Ave 4What is the first room you designed? How did you feel about it at the time, and how do you feel looking back on it now?

It was my own bedroom as a young fop. It was OK, at least it was mine and I could endless rearrange my treasures, posters and what little furniture could be shoved around. It took flight when I got to totally redecorate it as an 11 year old. With black patent walls and crisp white trim, I was in chic heaven.

Your style combines traditional with modern touches. What’s the one thing that appeals to you most about the two different styles?

I love the warmth, history, uniqueness and grandeur that traditional design and antiques can bring, yet feel compelled to juxtapose with a minimal approach that injects structure, rigor, and contemporary mores.

Jamie Drake Fifth Ave 5Have you ever finished putting together a room and not been happy with the result?

Only happens when the client doesn’t listen – LOL! But, sadly true.

Are friends and family always asking you for decorating advice?

Hmmmm, they are mostly afraid of my advice. Only my BF asks constantly.

Do you ever walk into someone’s house and start moving things around?

With my eyes, not my hands or mouth :-) Unless asked.

Whose home would you most like to design?

Beyonce, Mariah, Diana…I love a great diva!

Jamie Drake Fifth Ave 6What’s your favourite thing about being an interior designer?

Being able to constantly do new things, play with fresh colour combos, source and discover the latest and greatest, the best and bravest.

What accomplishment, design-related or otherwise, makes you proudest?

Still being here, in business after 31 years, and having the opportunity to work on new, challenging and exciting projects.

About Jamie’s work

You describe the library in the Merrywoods Showhouse as “Natural, waxed walnut panelling with bright blue lacquered inset shelving illustrates something traditional juxtaposed with something contemporary.” What appeals most to you about juxtaposing elements and styles?

Creating a provocative sense of visual surprise.

Jamie Drake Merrywoods library

Do you look at furniture and accessories and colours and instinctively know they’ll work together, or do you keep trying different combinations until you’re happy with how they look together?

I do rely on, and have learned to trust my instincts. If it’s right it’s right, if it’s off, try again.

Jamie Drake Esquire showhouse 2

Back to the 2007 Kips Bay project — although pink is typically considered a feminine colour, many of the furniture pieces have simple lines and a more masculine look & feel. Is that something you like to do, combine feminine and masculine elements in a space?

I like the juxtaposition and contrast of colours, styles, eras and epochs. So the contrast of gender typecasting would naturally intrigue me too.

Jamie Drake kips bay 2007 6

Did you design the Kips Bay bed?

Yes, the bed is my design, and was especially intended to show off my Not Square cut velvet fabric for Schumacher. (Colourway 54270 - Lady Slipper. View Jamie’s full line for Schumacher).

Jamie Drake kips bay 2007 3

Your bedroom has a zebra print upholstered bed, as well as a zebra print carpet and cheetah print carpets. How do you make bold prints work together and keep them from overwhelming a room?

Sometimes the more prints the better. In my bedroom, it is the sharp and bold patterning against the strong yellow walls that makes it work.

Jamie Drake Fifth Ave 8

Are there patterns that you would never put together?

Nope…success depends on the scale mix and types of patterns.

Jamie Drake Manhattan 6

Compared to the other rooms in your apartment, the dining room is rather subdued. Tell us a bit about it.

The dining room in my apartment is a more serene juncture between the deep-toned foyer and the intensely accented living room. The general tone is warm beige, yet a light orchid accent wall defines a niche where a Chuck Close self-portrait pops with a huge array of colours. A patinated steel table is surrounded by subtle jade upholstered chairs. The chairs hue echoes the emerald green teardrops hanging from the Venetian glass chandelier.

JD dining room

You incorporate a lot of seating into your rooms. The chairs are often different styles and colours, and they aren’t always positioned symmetrically. Is this for aesthetics or function or both?

Not always symmetrically, I often place single chairs angled towards a group, or odd pairs split up and placed diagonally across from each other. But yes, I generally like a lot of seating, that way any room is always ready for a party!

Jamie Drake Fifth Ave 3

The number artwork in the London townhouse is colourful and fun and light-hearted. The primary colours in the room (red and pink) are fun too, but the furniture and chandelier and ceiling treatment are much more formal. How do you manage to make such different elements in one room work so well together?

The drawing room in the London townhouse works because everything, whether 18th, 19th, or 20th century, is superb quality, from the Italian rock crystal chandelier, to the the French seat furniture, to the Jasper Johns 0-9 Series on the wall.

Jamie Drake London Townhouse 1

Design tips

You used mirrored walls in the HC&G Showhouse to create the illusion of a larger room. What other techniques do you use to make small rooms feel bigger?

Paint them dark and shiny. And install dimmers, or only use a single candle.

Jamie Drake HCG mirrors

In the Country Home in East Hampton, you carried the wall colour onto the ceiling in the bedrooms to neutralize problematic ceiling angles. What other techniques do you use to downplay structural problems?

Slather a space with a small print, or toile. A classic technique to mask the oddities.

Jamie Drake Country Home 3

What three things do you think every room needs to have?

Cocktails, laughter, and a candle.

What’s the biggest mistake people make when it comes to using colour?

Being timid and wimpy.

What’s the most important piece of decorating advice that applies to everyone, regardless of style or budget or size of house?

Embrace what you love. If you love bland food and overcooked oatmeal, so be it.

Just for fun…

Jamie Drake West Chelsea 1Cats or dogs? Dogs

Pizza or sushi? Pizza

City or country? City

Ocean or mountains? Woods

Daytime or nighttime? Night

2009 or 1979? 2009

You look like a very refined gentleman in the pictures I’ve seen of you. Are you a refined gentleman through and through, or are you a bit of juxtaposition like your rooms… do you ever wear purple socks and a zebra print tie?

I’m way wacky at times, and often very louche!

Jamie Drake

Thank you, Jamie!!

And I also have to send out a big THANK YOU to Tom Erdman at Thinking Inside The Box. It was this post on Tom’s blog that inspired me to write to Jamie and request an interview. As Tom says…

…think in terms of the possible, reach, never ignore your instincts. You never know when it might happen. Opportunities happen at all times…

new american glamour

And now here’s an opportunity for you… to win our giveaway!! We’re giving away a copy of Jamie’s book Jamie Drake’s New American Glamour. And Jamie will sign and personalize the book before it’s sent to the winner!!

All you have to do is leave a comment on this post and all our posts over the next week. We’ll pick a winner randomly from all the comments, and announce the lucky winner in next week’s Hooked on Fridays post. Make sure you give us a way to reach you if you don’t have a blog. And everyone can enter no matter what part of the world you live in :-)

If you weren’t hooked on Jamie Drake before, I hope you are now!! To see what everyone else is hooked on this week, head back to Hooked on Houses and make the rounds of Julia’s weekly blog party.

Happy weekend!!

sig new

Unless otherwise noted, all photos used with permission from Drake Design Associates


Velvet and Linen said...

I'm definitely hooked.
Mr. Drake deserves all of the attention, awards, etc... for his beautiful designs and his willingness to be so courageous.
Fantastic post, Kelly.


DesignTies said...

If I leave a comment can I win the book, Kelly?! I guess because I'm the other half of DesignTies I don't qualify :-( Darn!!

My biggest congratulations on this fantastic post/interview!! Wonderful questions, terrific photography and absolutely FABULOUS rooms!!!!

And I WANT that mega-sized circle painting over the sofa (photo by Waldron - not sure which Jamie room, though)!!!! So dynamic & colourful (of course!)... simply stunning!

Victoria @ DesignTies

DesignTies said...

And I almost forgot...

If Jamie drops by and reads our comments... from Kelly's blog partner a great big XXOO and THANK YOU!

Victoria @ DesignTies

Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions said...

Kelly ~ I have,of course, heard of Jamie Drake, but I am now hooked! What a great opportunity you had here. I skimmed the interview but will go back and read it indepth. The photos are great too.

Tiaa @ EYInteriors said...

Kelly, GREAT INTERVIEW! Loved the questions I loved Jamie's responses even more! Kudos!

Christy said...

Kelly - I totally loved reading this interview. He's so talented, and I love that he thinks of himself as wacky. AND I noticed that I have knock-offs of some cool blue/green diagonally striped pillows in my very own family room. Love that.

I hope I win the book. You can bet I'll be back every to comment regardless though - I love this blog!

Love it ! said...

Great coffe table would love this book :)

Things That Inspire said...

I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the man behind the genius! I recognize and admire so many of these rooms, and did not know the designer behind them. Great post!

Arleen @ Seasons for All at Home said...

Wow, what fabulous use of color! There are so many fine examples of how to mix monochromatic tones and complimentary colors. I want to take time to study each of them. Thank you! ~Arleen

Linda@ Lime in the Coconut said...

Oh. Boy. I am Sooooo hooked! My color cup is brimming over the rim! Gorgeous work!

Beach House Dreamer said...

He's a true color composer! Some of the rooms (first three) feel a bit overwhelming though while others are incredibly creative and uplifting.

Julia @ Hooked on Houses said...

What a fabulous post! I really enjoyed reading his answers. One of my favorites was that every room needs three things: cocktails, laughter, and a candle. Love it! What a fun and interesting interview--and great photos to go with it!

Oh, I hope I win this book. I'd love to have it. Pick me, pick me! :-)

Paul Anater said...


You conduct a great interview. Really. This was a tremendous post. Jamie Drake's a great designer and you provided him with a perfect forum. Brava!

Maya@Completely Coastal said...

When I reached the neutral colored rooms I thought at first glance that it was a different designer..., funny he'd say that he would love to do an all-white house for a client, but alas, they come to me for colour!

Maria Killam said...

Ahhhhh. . . very good strategy for comments!! I loved this interview I read every word of it. Excellent questions Kelly! Love all the colour!

modernemama said...

Love the art

Terry said...

I only caught my breath once I got to the boathouse pictures. I enjoyed this because it related to my post today.

About friends seeking his advice: "Hmmmm, they are mostly afraid of my advice."

Here is why: "...favourite thing about being an interior designer?"

"Being able to constantly do new things, play with fresh colour combos, source and discover the latest and greatest"

Awesome Sara said...

I am just floored!! rhere isn't a pic i did not like or a tip i could not use. AMAZING!!! I have seen his rooms before and i though man i want to live in something like that but how how... and here it is, a magic how too post. thank you!!

mrsben said...

An astounding post all around!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Fifi Flowers said...

LOVELY designs! LOVE all the COLOUR!!! How wonderful to be featured in those magazines! oooooh how I LOVE design magazines... soooo sad that many have vanished... le sigh!

Daly Essentials said...

I just about died over that zebra print bed -- I am so in love with that room. The rest of the images are gorgeous too! I'm definitely hooked. Thanks so much for sharing a great interview.

Lisa said...

Love your posts!! I'm redoing my living room and got some serious inspiration from that post. What atalented man!

Janis@An Inspired Life said...

FANTASTIC JOB!!!!!! This was such a wonderful interview.............and the pics, all I can say is WOW!!!!

Have a super weekend.

Kelly said...

Thanks for all the great comments :-) I love Jamie's work, and it's so good to see that you all like it too :-)

I'll be by soon to visit all your Friday posts -- but now, I have to head out to pick up Jamie's book!!


KitchAnn Style said...

Great Post! I would love to have a copy of the book so I can admire his work all the time.

ImagineCozy said...

It was so interesting to see what colors he does together. Thanks for sharing the interview!

Leona Gaita said...

Full on, uninhibited color immersion! Fabulous!

Ann Marie said...

Jamie Drake is my muse, and color hero! This was an outstanding interview.

Puna said...

Kelly, this post was like having all the ice cream flavors in the world all at once. What a treat for the eye! My girl would love the purple room...

Unknown said...

My first time visit to your blog. Wonderful interview and post. I am becoming hooked on interior decor blogs!

Thanks for visiting my blog in Ireland. Hope to reveal my kitchen/family room makeover next friday and would love your opinion on it when I do.

Have a lovely weekend.

Maria Killam said...

I thought I'd come by and see how many comments you'all are getting!! Not that many yet. . . I'll add one more :)

Jane F from Atticmag said...

A tour de force post, Kelly. It's a great introduction to Jamie Drake's art and a lesson unto itself in the use and nuance of color in rooms. We could all spend weeks studying those rooms and still not absorb everything. Superb.

Donna @ Paisley and Perspective said...

Kelly - you've done it again! Great interview - and a great subject! I love his work!

BTW - finally tracked down the effusys and have already received MANY comments from friends and family - thanks for the tip!

Marie said...

Can his designs get any yummier? I don't think so, I love his work, great blog post, thank you for sharing all those great pics too! said...

LOve it! Love it! Love it!!!
Color that is!!!!!
Now if I can only have a name for the Color Orange used in one of the first room pics??


Jasmine @ The Suburban Sentiment said...

All I can say is, WOW! What a great post / interview, and gorgeous photos!

I'm not usually a fan of pink, but I LOVE the Jamie Drake Esquire Showhouse 2: the pink cushions are tasteful with the creamy lounge, and that wonderful light fixture!

Thanks for sharing Kelly!

janet said...

kelly, i really enjoyed reading this interview. Coming from a color phobic person, his rooms are absolutely gorgeous and so many that i could easily live in. I think my color phobic comes from not knowing how to use color properly, so i take the safe route. I rhink he designed that pink room just for love it!

Alyssa said...

Oh My! This man knows how to use color beautifully.
I'm deliciously obsessed now.

Outside The Lines said...

I'm so glad I could finally logon to see this. Amazing!!!!!

kd said...

His book is one of my very few real favorites - awesome interview!

Tweegy said...

Loved Jamie's responses to your thoughtful provocative questions. He is inspirational and witty...made me smile and laugh!

Melissa A said...

I don't usually read all the interviews on blogs, I just skim the pictures, but I like Jamie Drake and I love his designs, and all the pictures shown here on your blog entised me to read. I read the whole interview and it was wonderful. I was directed to your blog from That Girl Designs. Awesome job and way to go for it!

Lisa said...

Great interview Kelly! Congrats! I loved all the pictures and all Jamie's advice he makes me want to use colour everywhere!!

Erika @Blulabel Bungalow said...

Wow, what an interview! I could get an idea of his personality and even created a voice for him ;-) Great Job Kelly!

Stacey Taylor said...

I'm currently an interior architecture and design student, and my mission in life is to save the world from beige! Jamie Drake is my hero!

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