Why Jamie Drake Loves His Home More Than Ever
The always energetic and ever-talented designer shares what he’s discovered about his Manhattan aerie while sheltering in place
Designer Jamie Drake is the epitome of a New York culture vulture. Every night of the week, he’s out at the latest restaurant, supporting a wide range of causes (Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club, The Alpha Workshops, Housing Works) at charity functions, and hopping to all the latest gallery openings. In between his packed calendar, he finds time to create spectacular homes for boldfaced names, from Mike Bloomberg to Madonna, as partner of his firm, Drake/Anderson. And on top of that, he conceives beautiful products for a wealth of brands, from furniture maker Theodore Alexander to Boyd Lighting. So when stay-at-home orders were put into place, Drake settled into his Manhattan apartment, which he generally uses only for sleeping, wardrobe changes, and hosting events.
Here, the always energetic and ever-talented Drake shares with Galerie what he’s discovered about his personal aerie while staying at home for many weeks.
As a designer, I am always surrounded by a rainbow palette, with copious shades and nuances. Living through this pandemic is likewise not a time of black or white for me. Going into week seven of the “pause,” New York governor Cuomo’s rather elegant term, one of the most life-affirming experiences I have had is getting to truly know my home.
I moved into my apartment nine years ago, and—after a period of perfecting, tweaking, and punch listing—christened it by opening the doors for my mother’s shiva. I can remember the complex feelings of that evening, unveiling my new, long-awaited home to the oohs and ahhs and applause of my friends, while simultaneously mourning the death of the person who influenced me more than any other. She taught me the delights of home, entertaining, igniting the candles, dimming the lights, gorgeous flowers, scrumptious food impeccably presented. And a full bar, well-staffed.
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Now, almost a decade later, I am home, and we are all in a way mourning. Yet I have marveled anew and joyously at getting to know my residence so deeply and intimately. Today is day 47 at home. I have never used and enjoyed my space as much. Most of my life is a whirlwind of urban activity—work, racing home, a short moment to refresh, and out the door to events, theater, dinners. I have hosted a kazillion parties and fundraisers here but am always too distracted by the crowds to take in the space.
I now use my living room daily, where before it was only my bedroom I would retreat to after a day on the town. As my eyes roam the interior landscape, I see a lifetime of memories. A tabletop grouping with a beautiful little painting by Lou Fratino, a recent purchase, placed next to a 19th-century bronze sculpture of a French gentleman that was my maternal grandmother’s (and I have known affectionately since childhood) and a metallic sculptural orb, a gift of the talented ceramist Pamela Sunday. This snapshot of the distant past, recent history, and the current together captures the essence of home to me. My bedroom desk encapsulates this fully, with framed photos of those I love—both living and long gone. I talk with them all the time now, my only companions.
While home has been a blessed safe zone, my mind often drifts to thoughts of what I would be doing if not sequestered. April would have found so many of us in High Point, North Carolina, for the spring market. Thoughts of the mild weather there, trees in flower, Southern hospitality, and seeing thousands of industry friends from around the world are only memories this year. I was to present a new collection for Theodore Alexander, following those I’ve created with them since 2015.
Soon, temperate weather will be here in the Northeast. Spring is a time of renewal, an annual reminder of the cycles of life. For now, my corner apartment with vast windows facing west and north provides me with views of trees leafing out, as well as deserted streets and empty sidewalks. But I get to take all this in from the comfort of my home.