weekly feature | Dec 16, 2015 |
A new, “professional marriage” is formed with Drake + Anderson

By Katy B. Olson
Drake Design Associates and Caleb Anderson Design are merging into Drake + Anderson, led by co-principals and designers Jamie Drake and Caleb Anderson. The two firms’ teams will be combined, under new branding to be revealed in 2016, and they will be housed in Drake’s existing Manhattan offices. Drake and Anderson will split partnership responsibilities equally.

The alliance suggests a full circle: Anderson, who began his career as an intern with Drake Design Associates, has long called Drake a mentor and friend. Drake, who, as Anderson says, watched his first “side project turn into multiple side projects” before opening his own firm, first floated the idea earlier this year. Anderson shares: “Around Labor Day, we were having lunch and he asked what I thought about [the partnership]. My jaw dropped to the floor. I was in shock. It was surreal, to be perfectly honest!”

Their new, multidisciplinary entity will provide interior design services including decorating, construction design and management planning for high-end residential and commercial clientele globally. While the logistics of uniting both businesses is still under wraps, Anderson says business consultant Ben Brooks and attorneys are involved to manage the “complex but feasible” process. Drake + Anderson’s initial focus will be on rebranding.

Newell Turner, editorial director of Hearst Design Group, tells EAL, “The interior design profession has a rich history and many fascinating traditions. It’s full of ‘professional marriages’ that have given us legendary interiors and work that literally withstands the test of time: Nancy Lancaster and John Fowler of Colefax and Fowler, Parish-Hadley, Irvine & Fleming, Diamond and Baratta. There’s quite an interesting list. Jamie already has an amazing portfolio of work for notable and devoted clients, while Caleb Anderson is one of the bright new stars of the field. We should all expect magical rooms to come.”

And what of the merging of two aesthetics? Legendary designer Drake is known for communicating colorful midcentury modern via his rooms, while Anderson is noted for his blend of both traditional and modern elements. “After 37 years in business, I have had the benefit of working in a variety of styles, including uber-posh ’80s traditionalism and historic preservation, as well as the last decade’s prevailing modernism,” says Drake. “I look forward to Caleb’s curatorial eye editing our projects, allowing unique pieces to shine to fantastic sculptural effect.”

As far as client expectations, Drake explains, “Our clients will have the benefit of even wider vision and broader service, the result of co-principals on their projects. We will work together, not divided, in agreeing on design direction and execution.” Anderson concurs, hoping to play to his strengths, as well as learn from Drake’s: “Jamie’s very efficient; he’s able to very quickly and decisively develop projects. I've learned to be that way as well, but I also tend to, for example, love concept imagery and spend time working on concepts. [Such] parts of the process design are important to capture, and I’d like to explore ways to include those.”

Shares Architectural Digest editor in chief Margaret Russell, “Jamie is a dear friend and I am an enormous fan of his work. I was thrilled when he called on Monday to tell me that he’d be joining forces with Caleb, who truly is a rising star. There is a rich tradition in the design community of mentoring and collaboration—and it’s deeply inspiring when two creative talents can grow in step. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for their new firm.”

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