Designer Jamie Drake discusses creating indulgence by crafting spaces that streamline a lifestyle.
By Kevin Phinney
Although designer Jamie Drake has worked with budgets sized to make dreams come true, he maintains that indulgence is not something you can add to your weekly shopping list. “I think of indulgence as more about an experience rather than an item,” Drake muses. “Luxury has often been defined in terms of clothes and chairs and sofas and things of that nature, but anything that’s specific to a person’s experience could be considered indulgent.”
The New York-based designer is half of the recently merged firms of Drake Design Associates and Caleb Anderson Design, both of which have created award-winning designs to suit clients with exacting, specific requests.
“Take for example the idea of creating a customized dressing room. As the designer, you’re working based on body types and considerations — in terms of how far from the wall the hangar rod should go,” Drake says. “Our concepts also include a number of specifics for the client: whether pants are folded, hung on clips or over hangars; whether they’re formal and prefer space for shirts to be hung starched and pressed or folded on shelves — along with drawers for socks and ties, and depending on the wardrobe, safes and watch-winders. It’s really about creating things that will make you feel well taken care of.”
At the moment, Drake is at work building a ladies’ dressing table that owes its inspiration to – of all things – a spice rack. “We’re creating inserts so that it won’t be just jars and bottles in a drawer, but elegant drawers that can be opened with her cosmetics angled towards her.”
Ideas that can seem wildly idiosyncratic at first can sometimes presage a design trend. “I can tell you something that falls into that category,” explains Drake. “That’s the integration of a TV monitor behind the bathroom mirror as you get ready for work.” He calls it the cutting-edge of multi-tasking. “You have instantaneous access to what’s happening to start your day, and it’s all done in a very discreet way.”
More challenging is the need to work around unforgiving space constraints. Drake points to the kitchen as a place where compromises often need to be made. “Part of that is prioritizing. Do you really need a freezer when you eat out all the time? Wine storage is becoming more important these days too, and clients often have to trade off linear feet to get the things they want. Sometimes you have to lose a bank of drawers in the kitchen.” Drake also works to streamline everyday tasks like making coffee: “We’ll often put in a refrigerator drawer where milk and cream can be stored in order for everything to be at your fingertips.”
Helping people who have only a vague inkling of what they want is often Drake’s key challenge. “Most people can tell you what they don’t want; that’s the easy part. It’s working backwards from there with sketches and photos and swatches,” he says. “That’s both the challenge and what makes it so satisfying when you stand back and look at the complete result.”
But even designers who enjoy saying “yes” to the most fanciful ideas have limits. “We had a client couple who requested a bed that was two and a half times the size of a king, so that they could have all their kids in bed with them at the same time,” Drake says with a shudder. “We decided not to get involved in all of that.”
Jamie Drake has worked with organizations including Alpha Workshops, Furnish a Future and and the Hetrick-Martin Institute. See more of his work at drakeanderson.com.
Last modified: July 27, 2017