10 Questions With… Jamie Drake
His clients include Madonna and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. His projects range from the landmarked Gracie Mansion to a London town house to an oncology clinic in Florida as well as countless product designs. Somehow, amid his prolific work output, he’s able to serve as the chair of the Alpha Workshops. We’re speaking of none other than Interior Design Hall of Famer Jamie Drake. We thought election day would be an ideal time to check in with the Parsons grad and principal of the recently formed Drake/Anderson on designing in the political arena.
ID: Tell us about the Gracie Mansion project.
JD: It was an amazing opportunity to do something new for me (historic preservation), and, coming a few months after 9/11, to personally contribute to the resiliency and rebuilding of New York City’s spirit. We renovated eight bathrooms, installed structural steel to stabilize the stair, and upgraded the AV, electrical, and plumbing systems. All furnishings were either newly purchased or restored and recovered. We found a fabulous pair of tufted, fully upholstered armchairs from the Mark Hampton redecoration in the 1980’s in a garden shed and had them reupholstered (after checking for ants!), but also added some wonderful period antiques to the permanent collection.
ID: What about your work on the Governor’s Room at City Hall?
JD: Those three en suite chambers posed the greatest challenge for historic preservation. The conundrum was how, stylistically, to develop the concept for a series of spaces that have undergone gut renovations and redecoration multiple times since 1816. The current decoration dated to a 1912 Adam-style design by Grosvenor Atterbury, so we decided to use an early Federal paint and color palette, to reflect the year the building was erected, and Adam revival fabrics for the swagged and draped curtains.
ID: What color palette or design scheme do you envision for a Hillary Clinton White House? For a Donald Trump White House?
JD: For Hillary, fresh, bold, and invigorating! Trump would be the Bleak House.
ID: What was the tipping point to join forces with Caleb Anderson and launch Drake/Anderson?
JD: After 37 years in business, and with the business still growing, I decided I wanted to ensure my firm could continue to grow, service our valued clients, and keep our team excited for the future. At the same time, I wanted the flexibility to travel more at some point and refocus my work on the areas I most enjoy. The upside has been munificent: a seamless flow of ideas, a keen sense of how to reorganize and evolve many of our business processes for heightened efficiency, and a new aesthetic eye. We’re returning to using more antiques. Real antiques, not 21st-century vintage, which we do appreciate, but feel is being too played out. Fine 18th- and 19th-century pieces are extremely undervalued and, when deployed strategically, add a wonderful patina and sculptural form.
ID: Latest design obsession?
JD: Everything by Stefan Bishop.
ID: A favorite paint color?
JD: Benjamin Moore & Co. White Satin 2067-70, a fresh blue that veers subtly into the land of lavender.
ID: A secret source you’re willing to share?
JD: Handwoven and extremely chic textiles by Lauren Hwang New York.
ID: Most admired historic interior?
JD: The Chinese Palace at Oranienbaum State Museum, just west of St. Petersburg in Russia. The enfilade of rooms and salons is intimate yet grand, capped by an exquisite room with walls paneled in glass-beaded “tapestries.” Magic!
ID: Dream client?
ID: Picture books or Pinterest?
JD: Books. And print magazines!