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Jamie Drake shares his take on designing for developers
Jul 15, 2015

Recently hailed as one of the top 20 “power players” in Manhattan real estate by the New York Post, interior designer Jamie Drake has designed a model apartment for new luxury residential tower One57 and a model for Manhattan House a few years ago. Drake, principal of Drake Design Associates, shares space on the paper’s top 20 list with architects, developers and other real estate pros, inviting the question, What is an interior designer’s relationship to real estate?

Jeffrey Dvorett, who served as senior vice president at Extell Development, the developer of One57, during Drake’s work on the project, shares his answer to this inquiry: “Great interior design unlocks value implicit in the real estate. Consumers today are more sophisticated and have more resources at their fingertips than ever before to compare the square footage, pricing and nuances of each residence. Still though, the choice of one residence over another remains an emotional one.” Dvorett, who is today head of development at Kuafu Properties, continues, “The interior designer creates the touch points and visual experience to help future residents envision themselves living there.  A master like Jamie highlights the virtues of the living space in a way that future owners can’t see themselves living anywhere else.”

A glimpse inside Drake's One57 model apartment; courtesy Marco Ricca

Drake discusses his take on design’s impact on residential real estate with EAL:

Do you see opportunity for more collaboration in the future between these real estate pros and designers?

Over the last few years, developers and real estate firms have the seen the great value that designer input has brought to their projects. We are at a point that all high-end new construction projects, as well as many conversions, have come to require sophisticated and sensitive design to appeal to the buyer in a competitive market. In addition, the sales force understands the promotional value of aligning with design luminaries. These collaborations will only grow in the foreseeable future, filtering down to the lower priced markets, the rental market and the outer boroughs.

How does your process for developing a model apartment in a large residential project unfold? How do you work with architects and developers along the way?

We have always been approached by the developers or their sales and marketing teams, who have developed a considered short list of design firms for consideration. The process tends to be smooth and professional, with the developers always concerned with moving forward efficiently and quickly. Once we are engaged, we review in more depth their vision, their target market, and the distinctive voice they will sell. For the most part, the plans are determined, if not built already, and our interaction on model apartments is limited to the developer and sales team.

Jamie Drake

How do you decide the vision and theme for a model apartment?

The vision is outlined by the developer and sales team rather explicitly. We have always been asked to not sacrifice the Drake signature. At One57 our direction was to appeal to a global buyer, play up the spectacular views, be more masculine and tailored but with a softness, to employ color but not in an overwhelming way. We all agreed that contemporary glamour was the theme. The vision of low horizontals to let the eye roam out the windows, countered with strong verticals that played up the expansive 11’8” ceiling heights was my design theme.

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