Cultured Magazine

April/May 2015

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128 CULTURED Recently, interior designer Jamie Bush worked on a vacation home in Tahoe. His company, Jamie Bush + Co., molded the home with precision. Bush's architecture background allows the company to be full-service, working on everything from reconfiguring walls down to, say, selecting the vacuum cleaners and the napkins. It's usually very meticulous, but in Tahoe, he missed one thing. "I forgot to pick out the toilet bowl scrubbers, and I didn't like the ones that were picked," he says. "It sounds insane, but if it does not belong in this room we spent months on designing, then that's all I can look at." Bush's approach in transforming commercial and private residences is painstaking and particular, but it's not about perfection. He holds up a marble egg he keeps on his office desk, pointing out the flaws and blemishes on the surface. "Interior design is about figuring out the location, the client and what the architecture is asking for, but more and more as I get older, I'm drawn to a modernist sense of a Japanese philosophy of wabi sabi—the charm and appeal of the imperfection. I'm not interested in über-contemporary clean spaces. I find that soulless." Bush points to his family as the influence behind his aesthetic, which is at once high-minded and down-to-earth. "I'm from New York, and I came from a family of creatives," he says. "My great aunt was an amazing shoe designer (Beth Levine), my cousin is a great painter and my uncle is a photographer (Bruce Weber). We also grew up on these farms—my grandfather and my great uncle were farmers—so I'm heavily influenced by natural forms and materials, how things patina and the limitless patterning of nature. I mix that with my influences from New York and being in the art world." Bush earned a masters in architecture at Tulane University. Soon, he realized that the contemporary architecture that most interested him was in California, so he pulled up stakes and landed a job at Los Angeles firm Marmol Radziner, followed by a short stint as a project management for Kelly Wearstler. "And then I went out on my own," he says. "I'm impatient, which luckily led me to buy a house in Venice before prices got crazy. I did my own interior design, which became my most effective calling card." Founded in 2002, Jamie Bush + Co. has grown into a tight-knit team of five, including architects, which has allowed him to streamline the business. "We understand the language: everybody knows how to build things here," says Bush. A lot of designers don't know how to respond to a built environment, so you try to upstage it or do something that distracts from the architecture, or something that's inappropriate. For us, the end goal is that you can't figure out where the construction ends and where the design starts, so it's more holistic." Now, Bush is branching out. He has been working on a series of paintings, for what he calls his "side business"—even though he's sold out of everything he's put up for sale. The series will eventually turn into a gallery exhibition, so he's put slaes on hold for the moment. And he's in the middle of producing a very painterly rug with Marc Phillips Rugs, who have also made pieces with painters like RETNA and Cole Sternberg. Perfectionism isn't his game, but for interior designer Jamie Bush, it's definitely all about the details. BY MAXWELL WILLIAMS PORTRAIT BY JEREMY LIEBMAN COMPLETE PACKAGE Jamie Bush's Los Angeles office; opposite, the designer at one of his client's home in Beverly Hills.

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