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A Day In The Life Of Jamie Durie, Designer + Media Personality

A Day In The Life

Jamie Durie OAM is firmly rooted as an icon of Australian design and popular culture. He’s been on the TV screens of households across the country for decades, hosting over 52 primetime design shows worldwide (including a five-year stint with Oprah!), has authored 12 books and contributed to many publications, all while remaining fiercely committed to Durie Design, the international award-winning multidisciplinary  design practice working across landscape architecture, industrial design and furniture design he founded over 20 years ago.

We visit the designer (and OG Aussie heartthrob!) at the Durie Design offices on a sunny day in Sydney to learn more about his day-to-day.

12th September, 2019

A day in the life with Jamie Durie, designer and Australian media personality. Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files.

Jamie tries to meditate every morning as part of his routine. Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files.

On site with the Durie Design team. Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files.

Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files.

A Durie Design project in progress. Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files.

‘I’ve been married to my job for about two decades now’, Jamie says. Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files.

Jamie on site. Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files.

Working on a project with a team member. Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files.

Jamie heading into the Durie Design studio. Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files.

Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files.

Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files.

Inside the Durie Design studio. Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files.

‘I enjoy inquisitive minds that are uninhibited with the day to day rigmarole of design delivery, client expectations time constraints and knockbacks.’ Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files.

Jamie working with a team member in the Durie Design studio on the Brickwood Room Divider. Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files.

Sally Tabart
Thursday 12th September 2019

‘I have been married to my job for a couple of decades now…which is probably the reason why I’m still not married!’ Jamie Durie.

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!

MORNING

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.

AFTERNOON

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!

EVENING

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.

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Jamie Durie, designer and media personality. Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files.

Right now I’m reading/listening to…

Reading: Cradle to Cradle.
Listening to: FKA Twigs, as well as Billie Eilish.

I get my best work done when… 

In the morning. Ideas are fresh and uninhibited by the demands of the everyday. To me, design is like food. Some days I’m hungry, some days I’m full. But there is always a never-ending thirst to create something meaningful and something new that makes one feel proud.

I wish I had more time…

At home. I really am a bit of a homebody and I enjoy tinkering around the house, playing in the garden and being out on the water.

A philosophy I live and work by is…

Be compassionate; with earth and our relationships. 


Something I wish I knew before I learned the hard way is… 

Don’t get emotionally attached to any parts of your design. Ideas are intangible and endless.

Jamie will be taking part in Channel 7’s upcoming show starting soon, The Real Dirty Dancing, where he and seven other Australian celebrities learn routines from the iconic movie to star in a one-off Australian stage production. Jamie will return to House Rules in 2020.  He is also the host of Habitus House Of The Year on Channel 7. 

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