Jamie Durie: 20 (sexy) Questions
When we decided on the Sex theme for this month’s content I immediately thought of Jamie Durie. If anyone has been close to sexing up plants in Australia, he is the man. From the heady days of Backyard Blitz, to talking edible gardening with Barack and Michelle Obama, Jamie’s plant journey has been a wildly successful one. Now based in LA, I caught up with him recently for a chat in his Sydney home. We talked about all sorts of things, from aphrodisiac plants, pick-up lines, and life. No celebrity nonsense. It’s not our bag. This is how it went:
Briefs or boxers? Boxers
What has been the best pick up line from a woman (or man)? Did it work? (Silence) Ummm.
Surely you get hit on?! ‘Yeah, I’m just trying to think of a good one. Oh yeah, this: ‘Is this seat taken?’
Did it work? Yeah!
If you were a plant, what would you be? Hmm. I would be a Dracaena draco. They’re strong, salt tolerant, drought resistant, and sculptural. They’re also very robust and majestic.
What is your most treasured memory from your life so far? The birth of my daughter.
What advice would you give your daughter about life? Follow your heart and never worry about what the competition is doing.
What’s your greatest indulgence? Probably this house!
What perfume do you wear? Armani.
You always used to say a garden needed to be private enough to wander around naked in. Do you do get nude in your own garden? Absolutely. That’s why I have a bathtub in the front garden. I have hot and cold water going to it.
Quite often I will be walking around the garden pruning in my underwear. That, to me is exclusivity. That’s what everyone really wants.
I have always tried to treat my clients like that and design for them as if they are movie stars, because that’s what I want. I want privacy and exclusivity. I don’t want to be a movie star and I certainly don’t want to be a celebrity, but I do want the quality that goes with it.
Is there anything you haven’t achieved yet that you would still like to? I want to have more children.
Really? Absolutely. Without a doubt. My one big regret is that I haven’t done that sooner. In a way I married my work for the last few years. I’ve turned that around now though….
Is the desire for more kids a recent thing or has it always been there? Kids have never left my mind. It’s just that my career has been so overwhelming. I’ve been extremely blessed with all the opportunities I have had, but in all honesty, it’s a beast of a business to manage. There are lot’s of moving parts. I’m in 14 countries a year. I’ve travel so much, and it’s very hard to offer a family the stability it requires. Hence my movement into furniture. With furniture I can design from anywhere in the world. I can be in one place, yet my work can live in many.
This seems to be important to you, the idea that your work can be accessed by many? Absolutely. Design should be democratic. That’s why I have a range of products at Big W and it’s been on the shelves for 10 years. I believe everyone should be able to afford our designs.
What’s your favourite food? Paella.
What qualities in people do you value most? I like genuine, down to earth, hard working people. No arrogance, and open hearts. I usually connect very well with creative people.
What is your favourite natural fragrance? Michelia champaca – my favourite flower in the world. They make my mothers favourite perfume out of it, Joy.
Love making. Indoors or outdoors? Out. Of course.
What’s your favourite plant? Acer palmatum ‘Sengu Kaku’.
Really?! You’re always a surprise! I thought you were going to say Dracaena draco. Why? I have one in my garden in LA and I just adore it. The red trunks, the light green leaves. Since moving to America I have fallen in love with maples, I collect a lot of them now.
What do you you like most about your job? These days I rarely design gardens. It’s probably five per cent of my work. 95% of my work now is designing furniture. I absolutely adore it and wish I started 10 years ago. With furniture I can design one chair that stays in production for many years and it can touch a million people whereas when I design a garden, quite often it’s not maintained as I would wish, it suffers the elements, its always changing and moving, and my design intent is not maintained.
With a piece of furniture I can spend hours and hours sculpting the legs, looking at the proportions, and understanding how it reacts with the human body. Once that piece is finished and it goes into production, it never changes. There is something really gratifying about that. I wasn’t aware I would enjoy it this much but for me now, it’s my greatest passion.
Where do you find beauty? In people’s hearts.
What motivates you? These days I have trouble de-motivating myself.
These days? C’mon, that’s not a new thing?! Ha, no! I’ve never needed motivation.
Where does your crazy energy come from? I have no idea, no idea where it comes from. I left home when I was way too young, when I was 15. A lot of it comes from a little 15 year old boy who wants to prove to his mum he can make it on his own. I don’t know.
Surely you have proved that by now? One would think so, but it seems I’m on the train now… The journey has been great though. My partners have always found it hard to keep up with me but the right partner….
On that note, are you seeing someone at the moment? I’m not going to get into that….
Fair enough. Vegemite or peanut butter? Vegemite.
Ultimate dinner party guests? It would have been Nelson Mandela, definitely Oprah, who I have had dinner with a couple of times and who I truly love. Barack Obama, I had dinner with him once and had an amazing experience chatting with him and Michelle.
You’ve already had dinner with your ultimate guests?! No, no, there are many that I haven’t. Gandhi, I would have loved to have dinner with Gandhi.
Aphrodisiac plants? Do they work? Ahh. Yes. I’ve tried some and yes, they do work.