The Pavia Capsule Collection
Architect and designer Jamie Bush has played a key role in defining the history of California design. His work with industry greats and his preservation of iconic homes in a modern manner have gained him a global reputation. Dubbed the progenitor of the New California look—a style predicated on reverence for natural materials, with all their inherent imperfections – by Architectural Digest. Jamie Bush describes his style as organic modernism.
He grew up in an eccentric family of dairy farmers on Long Island. Jamie headed out West after receiving his Masters of Architecture from Tulane University seeking to discover the unsung heroes of mid-century modern residential architecture in Los Angeles. After stints at Marmol Radziner and Kelly Wearstler, he founded his own interior architecture and design firm in 2002. Jamie’s designs have been featured in Architectural Digest, Interior Design, Vogue, Elle Decor, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times as well as several coffee table books. While his sharp eye and easy manner have made him a go-to designer for myriad Hollywood potentates and titans of Silicon Valley.
Here we talk to Jamie Bush about his design influences from the couture catwalk to Isamu Noguchi.
Can you explain your Flaneur bedding color choices?
I think it all stemmed from the Valentino Spring 2019 Couture show. It used super saturated colors and two related shades like a bright red and a pale pink from the same color family and then a dissonant color like chartreuse or army green. There was something very beautiful about that. I recently referred to that show for a house we’re doing in Santa Monica Canyon with sort of the same color palette. It wasn’t so much about fashion, necessarily but more about color blocking and the way Josef Albers connected colors.
Do you have a favorite color?
Yellow. I grew up in a little beach house from the sixties on Fire Island. The whole house was wood, canary yellow and safety orange. It was super color blocked, very sixties and that color yellow always gave me this sort of sense of nostalgia and safety and happiness.
Which designers and artists inspire or have an impact on you?
Isamu Noguchi has probably had the biggest influence on me. He was a furniture designer, a sculptor, an architect and really just a maker of things. And to me all of his designs took the same approach to different design problems. He would design radios and playgrounds for children and there was a thread of this sort of optimistic modernism throughout his work that really has resonated with me.
For your design aesthetic, where do you find inspiration?
I look at everything-nature, jewelry, painting and sculpture and found objects. I don’t give more weight to a rock that might be on my coffee table than I do to a modernist sculpture. To me, it’s all one and the same. There are limitless resources out there when it comes to inspiration. I feel like I’m always looking at things and hopefully growing and broadening my perspective.
How would you define your interior design style?
I don’t like to box myself into doing one thing. Right now we’re doing a Hollywood Regency mixed with a super-contemporary sort of home, a rustic house in Santa Monica Canyon and a contemporary high rise condo in New York. There is a common thread of optimistic modernism that runs throughout our work with a tremendous amount of texture, and highlights of color but it’s difficult to define one category that it falls into.
How do you work with clients on the design process?
We listen. Always try to figure out what the client inherently responds to. We also have very strong ideas to do with proportion and composition and less about aesthetic choices. I’m more interested in balance, and harmony, and composition than I am in whether it’s a George III side chair or a Sheraton style cabinet. I find it more interesting to problem solve based on the likes and dislikes of clients versus imposing our design philosophy.
We just finished a project where the client wanted absolutely no color and it was interesting, because it was a challenge and something that we haven’t done before. That said, we use a tremendous amount of natural textures and materials that are inherently flawed as they are derived from nature – that concept of Wabi Sabi. I don’t know if I’ve ever done a project that’s all slick surfaces and devoid of pattern and texture. That’s just not something I’m attracted to or would want to spend time in so that’s sort of a must in all of our projects – dimension and texture – that’s something that’s inherent in all our work.
How has California played into your work?
I love New York and grew up there but I find L.A. in particular, and California in general, well suited to the ideas of design that I inherently believe in about indoor-outdoor spaces. There’s also a certain freedom of expression here. People are very experimental and willing to try things while the east coast is much more conservative. Here it’s a little bit of a wild west deal where anything goes. It allows for a tremendous amount of creativity.
What is the last thing you bought for your house?
One of the last things was that painting over the fireplace which is by an artist from Northern California called Fred Reichman. He was part of a circle of painters who were influential in the San Francisco area in the 60s and 70s and was highly influenced by Milton Avery and Japanese reductionist painters. He paints scenes of everyday life, like a solitary cat or light streaming in through a window. I love the bare modernism of it but there’s also a humility and a domestic quality to all his work.
Do you have a bedtime or a morning ritual?
I like to read before I go to sleep and I like to sleep in. I’m not a morning person so it takes me a couple hours to function. I like to wake up and very slowly make coffee and tidy up the house.
What’s on your bedside table?
Usually it’s a towering, cascading stack of magazines and books that gets out of hand.
Where’s your dream travel destination?
We’re looking at going to Palawan which is this island in the Philippines. It’s this amazing tropical island with these crazy rocky outcroppings. I’d like to go scuba diving there.