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In a style he describes as New American Glamor, designer Jamie Drake throws caution to the wind, creating a bold, confident interior – with more than a hint of surprise

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New York at the turn of the last century had its share of glamor. The Flatiron district was the center of fashionable shopping and buildings were adorned with pediments and curlicues.

The building that houses designer Jamie Drake's apartment was no exception. Crowned by a golden cupola, it has retained its landmark status – and its commandingviews of Madison Square Park and the Flatiron Building. Inside, however, the former piano showroom has been transformed into apartments – just one on each floor.

For Drake, the chance to design his own apartment from scratch provided the opportunity to indulge his passion for eclectic interiors. More specifically, his love of a style he calls New American Glamor.

"This is a bold, polished, confident and assertive look, with color, glamor and glitter coming together in interesting textures and forms," he says.

The foyer spells it out in no uncertain terms. Deep magenta walls are matched by a stainless steel 1970s table with a lacquered magenta top. One of the walls is covered with a collection of Gene Davis silk screens from the 1960s and ‘70s – art Drake has admired since childhood.

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"I derived a lot of the color in the apartment from the silk screens," he says. "I also found an upholstery fabric with an intensity of color that I loved. This helped determine the look in the living room."

The fabric, in a vibrant shade of fuchsia, is a counterpoint to the visually quiet beige walls and Thai silk curtains.

A large, fuchsia ottoman – a signature furniture piece for Drake – and a neo-baroque loveseat in saturated-magenta velvet, claim the limelight. The intensity of the hues is diluted by checkered, cut-velvet cushions in beige and dark cinnamon brown. An antique chair – a family heirloom – is finished in iridescent silver leaf and upholstered in a silk fabric featuring a zebra pattern.

"I like to juxtapose things from different eras and places," says Drake. "For example, two 1920s German Art Deco armchairs by Kristian Krass sit next to an 1840s gilded Viennese chair, which is opposite a 1940s French armchair in the style of Louis XVI. But while these chairs are all different, they share the same form. They all have curved arms and rolled armrests, which in turn reinforces the round theme evident in the furniture, accessories and the large painting by Venezuelan artist Graciela Hasper."

Drake says repetition is a key to creating a successful eclectic look.

"Whether it's a color, a shape, or a dialogue with the materials, repetition holds the diverse elements together."

Drake also recommends creating a strong background to anchor the different furnishings and accessories.

In the formal dining room, the walls are painted in an orchid tone, which creates a backdrop for the large self-portrait by artist Chuck Close. A round, steel-patina table and ebonized wood dining chairs provide a more muted touch to the decor.

But, as in all Drake's interiors, there is an element of the unexpected. Emerald beads on a glass chandelier add a quirky touch.

"I love to surprise," he says. "In the living room, for example, the bright red of some accessories and the small side table, is unexpected next to the fuchsia, yet complementary."

While Drake designs his rooms to create an immediate visual impact, he also ensures there are groupings of smaller items for guests to discover over time – many with an interesting personal history.

In the master bedroom, bright yellow provides the surprise element – the color even extends to an over-dyed cowhide rug. Here, the zebra-striped, upholstered bed and a moody painting of death masks add an element of fantasy.

"A beautiful piece of fabric – an Indian silk in a bright shade of Peking yellow – was the color key for the room. I used it for the curtains," says Drake. "I loved the fact that this was the complete antithesis of my former bedroom, which was very dark."

A large pivoting wall, finished in a high gloss yellow paint, serves as the door. When the wall is open, the length of the apartment (115ft) is accentuated, and the yellow room is like a ray of sunlight.

Drake refers to the guest room as his Sentimental Room. It incorporates family heirloom pieces and a personal favorite – a large, 1940s mirror, which was one of his first buys at a Paris flea market.

Here, again, the designer's attention to detail ensures there is always another treasure just waiting to be discovered.

First published date: 17 November 2005

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Credit List

Designer Jamie Drake, Drake Design Associates (New York, NY)
Entrance hall paint Her Majesty from Pittsburgh Paints
Silk screen art in entrance Gene Davis from Marsh Mateyka Gallery
Custom sofa New York Royal Upholstery; upholstered in silk tapis fabric from J Robert Scott
Sofa pillows Arabelle Taggart; upholstered in Velours Gatinais and Carre Royal fabrics from Clarence House
Painting behind sofa Untitled, 2000 by Graciela Hasper from Annina Nosei Gallery
Cocktail tables Dupré from Lorin Marsh
Rug Agra wool from Safavieh Carpets
Living room table Lacquer saddle table from Jonathan Adler
Schiaparelli sofa Michael Taylor Designs; upholstered in Gainsborough Velvet fabric from Schuacher
Chandeliers Objets Plus
Curtains Henry B Urban
Dining room paint Exotic Fuchsia from Benjamin Moore
Tuscan dining table J Robert Scott
California armchairs John Boone
Painting in dining room Self Portrait, 2000 by Chuck Close from Pace Prints
Vases in dining room Chinese oxblood vases from Far Eastern Antiques
Paint in main bedroom Yellow Highlighter from Benjamin Moore
Custom bed New York Royal Upholstery; upholstered in Zebra Velours Soie fabric from Clarence House
Bedding E Braun & Co
Silk screen art in bedroom Gene Davis from Marsha Mateyka Gallery
Bedroom curtains Sharif fabric from Jab
Bedroom chairs Upholstered in Silk Tapis fabric from J Robert Scott
Wall treatment in second bedroom Antique faux-leather wall by Douglas Wilson
Bed in second bedroom Upholstered in 1500 series horsehair fabric from Clarence House
Lamp Triple Gourd table lamp by John Thompson, from John Boone
Chair Brester chair from George Smith Sofas & Chairs