Iconic Australian design and media personality Jamie Durie OAM recalls his first exposure to design at only 7 years old, when his dad gave him a Swiss Army knife and blocks of cedar from which Jamie would carve wooden fish (‘I still have one of the first Marlin that I ever carved’, he shares). When he was 9, Jamie’s grandfather made him a woodworking lathe out of an old washing machine motor, where he upgraded to crafting wooden wine goblets for his mother. ‘This helped form my understanding of proportions at a very young age’, he tells. ‘Since then I’ve been able to adapt those skills into lots of different forms of design…my brain works in 3D’.
Later, Jamie went on to undertake an apprenticeship in carpentry and joinery, and then pursued studies in landscape design. It’s been over two decades since Jamie launched Durie Design, his award-winning practice that creates internationally renowned landscape architecture, industrial design and furniture design projects. Today, Durie Design has employed over 145 people across several countries over company’s lifespan, has exhibited award-winning furniture designs at prestigious international events including Salone del Mobile in Milan and designed for iconic Italian design houses including Natuzzi, Riva 1920 (available via Fanuli stores in Australia) and Unopiu.
As the Principal Designer of Durie Design, environmental activist, author of 12 books, current host of multiple design-related television shows (and soon to star in Channel 7’s upcoming show, The Real Dirty Dancing) and a columnist for Mansion magazine in The Australian, Jamie is almost always working on something, and his days are rarely regulated. ‘I balance media with design, and split my work hours between the two careers quite evenly’, he tells. ‘Both sides allow elements of freedom of creativity.’ Jamie is a master of multitasking, and has managed to nail his ability to ‘deliver unique design to every new client’ Durie Design takes on.
For someone whose day-to-day is constantly changing across a wide variety of pursuits, it should come as no surprise that Jamie is passionately committed to his work. ‘I have been married to my job for a couple of decades now…which is probably the reason why I’m still not married!’, he jokes. ‘But I love my work. I really enjoy what I do’. He credits a commitment to exercise and wellbeing and a massive part of what keeps him on task.
Although every day can look completely different, we caught up with Jamie on a day at the Durie Design office to learn more about his approach to work and life!
My days are not regulated or structured, so the few routines I have in the morning are quite important to me. I’m usually up around 7.30am and meditate and then I try to get to the gym by 8.30am and I’m in the office by 10.30am. They’re my targets.
Exercise has always been a priority for me. While this varies depending on my travelling commitments, I usually try to train every day. I like free weights and spin cycling. My leisure time spent is surfing, sea kayaking and bike riding. Because I live on NSW’s beautiful Northern Beaches, there could be a new beach, a new track or a trail every time I go out.
I am very conscious of my eating habits, starting my day with a protein shake with bananas and berries. I keep my meals small and light, but ensuring they sustain my busy life.
Every day is different, but I love being in the office. As the principal designer I don’t have to be there for the entire drafting process. Most of my work is done at the embryo of the project, listening to the clients brief, verbally suggesting ideas around their wants and needs, and then conveying that to my team when we’re back at the studio to resolve those design. It’s big-picture designing, and I find that the most exciting part of it. The design documentation is important, and engineering is a great passion of mine.
On Fridays I usually like to take the team out for lunch at a restaurant or we get out of the studio, we like having Friday afternoon drinks at the office. But generally, we eat while we work at the studio – sometimes we swap meals!
I’ll usually be in the office until around 6pm or 7pm and then I’ll head home. I like to unwind by watching the sunset over a glass of wine, and I’ll work on other projects. For example, the other night I was writing my column for Mansion magazine (The Australian) on the subject of architecture and design. I enjoy that. I’ll usually be watching a movie or reading a book before I go to bed.