design on a dime interviews: jamie drake

by Grace Bonney

today i’m thrilled to share another design on a dime interview with interior design magazine hall of fame designer, jamie drake. jamie’s incredible eye for color is one of my favorites in the business and it’s always a treat to hear more about his design philosophy and tips for designing on a budget. i hope you’ll enjoy his answers as much as i did- thanks so much to jamie for taking the time to answer these questions!

*don’t forget to enter the housingworks/design on a dime thrift store decorating contest right here!

CLICK HERE for jamie’s interview (don’t miss question #8) and images of his design work after the jump!

1. How would you describe your personal style?

Bold, polished, urbane and witty.

2. What are some of your favorite projects you’ve worked on during your career?

I have been very lucky to work on fabulous projects such as the restoration and renovation of Gracie Mansion in 2002, and most recently the ground up design of an oncology clinic in Jacksonville Florida, First Coast Oncology. Also, a London townhouse and Bermuda retreat.

3. Moving on to new projects, how did you become involved with Design on a Dime?

I’ve always been a supporter of Housing Works, and that coupled with my respect for Ford Huniford make it a “Yes!”.

4. Is there a theme or goal with your display at this year’s Design on a Dime? If so, how did you decide on that theme?

Fashion. It evolved from designer David Rowland’s 40/4 stacking chairs in a bold color orange, that we are pairing with Jason Witcher’s whimsically fantastic fashion drawings, along with a wonderful mannequin from Ralph Pucci. Let the models sashay down our fantasy runway!

5. What was the biggest challenge you had in decorating your display for DOD?

Coming up with merchandise that would raise money for Housing Works.

6. What are your tips for readers looking to decorate their homes on a dime?

Start by looking at what you already have, and re-envisioning it. Move it to another room, or flip the floor plan. Reupholster, spray the wood pieces. Shopping at home can be your most inexpensive resource.

7. What are some of your favorite affordable (or unexpected) design resources?

Paint. By using shots of color in an otherwise more neutral room. I like to disperse the selected shade throughout a space, so the eye moves from larger items (curtains, chairs) to midsize (pillows, lampshades) down to small (tabletop accessories, a single flower) I often paint the ceiling a pale, pastel shade of the color to bring the eye up.

8. Could you tell us when you realized that you wanted to be a designer?

I’ve been told it was at birth in the hospital. I am rumored to have cried in horror at the dreadful d├ęcor and unflattering lighting.

9. Has your style changed over the years? If so, how and why do you think it’s changed? If not, how to you keep things fresh at home while maintaining the same style?

My style has stayed consistent in certain ways, but has also evolved. I am much freer today in the way I mix things, both in the nature of eclecticism, and in the colors I use.

10. Are there any designers, trends, or ideas you’re hoping/excited to see at this year’s DOD?

Explosions of new economy chic!

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  • love love love him! and am very inspired by him. I remember the first time i saw his work i was like “WHAAAAT?! is this real life?! i’m in love with this magic.”

    And paint is such a magical little thing! color can make the most mundane object interesting.

  • interesting work! question on collage photo at the top, top right hand corner. I see in photo shoots what looks like a plant growing out of a picture or arrangement. love that design feature, the surprise.

    could you tell me where I might find such accessories online?

    what are they called? is this a trend or a design that Jamie Drake is often associated with?

    color me curious.

  • I love Jamie’s idea of using what you have. Sometimes that’s when your creativity is at it’s best.

    Love his response to question #8. What a hoot!

  • It is always refreshing to see designers who understand that most people do not have endless amounts of money to work with when decorating. Great stuff!

  • He’s got such a fab eye and a great sense of humor! A couple years ago, Jamie came to speak at the Design Center I’m employed at… in his lime green suit none the less ;). I love his color use and the fact that he doesn’t take things as seriously as some designers.

  • Jamie,
    Did you send me this email…it’s fab!!!
    It’s fun to catch up with you. Your colors are right on and the unusual juxtaposition of things is amazing. I’ve always loved your work, but I really enjoy seeing the way you have evolved!

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