15 Minutes with Jamie BushAuthor:Lindsey Shook
PROLIFIC ARCHITECT and designer Jamie Bush has played a key role in defining the history of California design. A true visionary, his work with industry greats and his preservation of iconic homes in a modern manner have gained him global respect. But it’s his humble upbringing combined with being exposed to legendary artists in his family that are at the core of his passion for design.
How did your childhood shape your aesthetic? My father’s side of the family came from Lithuania and landed in Long Island, New York, where they became dairy farmers. Like many families, my grandparents wanted their kids
to have better lives than theirs and worked to provide that. Some of my aunts and uncles stayed in farming while the others became models, designers and artists. My father was a sculptor, my uncle a realist painter, my grandmother was an interior designer, my aunt Nan Bush was
an agent and film producer working with her husband Bruce Weber and my aunt Beth Levine was an award-winning shoe designer along with her husband Herbert, whose work is a part of
the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s permanent collection. All of these individuals were fearless, self-motivated and polished while remaining true to their farming roots. Growing up and seeing their work, which was accomplished and grounded, inspired me on a base level.
Who has been the most influential figure in your career?
I’m a better designer because of my background and growing up around creatives who valued craft and fashioned their lives in the way they wanted to live. Nan and Bruce were a big influence because they pushed boundaries with their work. They really were the first in photography to build a brand around their work. Beth and Herbert’s playful, exuberant collections taught me that design can be fun and serious. And the farmers in my family greatly inspired my work as an architect; with the practice you have to know so much. For me, farming is similar as it requires you to be a jack-of-all-trades.
What maker are you currently the most excited about? Casey Johnson of Foxwood Co.’s work is phenomenal, as it harkens back to the great modernists. Everything he’s making is authentic to his craft, and of the highest quality. We’re working together on a few projects.
What would you like to see change in local architecture? I have been in LA now for almost 25 years. Historically, homes here had a holistic relationship with nature and the surrounding landscape by incorporating design elements like courtyards. However, over the past five to eight years, the modern spec houses being built focus on maximizing square footage in part because developers are driving the design decisions versus architects. I would much rather see quality spaces that have a dialogue with the environment instead of expansive homes that just sit on a plot of land.
What’s your favorite restaurant in LA? Republique.
If you weren’t a designer, you would be? A jeweler or an artist or maybe a farmer!
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