On hot and humid days in Singapore, it’s hard to resist switching on the air-conditioning. But according to designer and television personality Jamie Durie, if you get your home designed right, that shouldn’t be the case.
The key here, is to work with your architect to make your home a solar passive space that’s designed to “allow hot air to escape and bring the cool air in,” says the celebrity designer, who was in Singapore to promote reality television series The Apartment: Rising Stars Edition.
It’s also about blurring the boundaries between the outdoors and indoors, to create what Durie calls “transteria” architecture. As he explains in Living Design—a book he co-authored with creative director Nadine Bush—Durie declares that “our world is evolving into a new place without doors or barriers, and no specific boundaries between indoors and outdoors.” He adds: “I think this is really the future of design. We want to be close to nature but we want to do this in a sustainable way.”
Currently based in Los Angeles, the Australian-born designer has crafted interiors for the likes of Chris Hemsworth, Oprah Winfrey and Charlize Theron. He’s also the judge and host of The Apartment, where 12 Asia-based emerging designers live under one roof, while undergoing collaborative challenges to redecorate myriad spaces, ranging from the kitchen, bedroom to the outdoor patio.
“These are rising stars in the design industry, who have an incredible amount of ambition. These finalists come from diverse fields, some from architecture, fashion, interior design. Everyone has their different strengths, so everyone ends up on an even playing field,” shares Durie, on the current season of The Apartment. “Although they lack experience, I don’t think you learn until you make mistakes. There’s even a little love, as two of the contestants fell for each other in the final stages and became competitors.”
Passionate about sustainable design, the TV personality declares that he has “no tolerance for designers who don’t understand sustainability”. “I come down very hard on the finalists for (their choice of materials) and they were quite shocked. I would fail them if they had no idea where the timber came from, while Genevieve (his co-star) judges room planning, decor, furnishings and how well have these been delivered professionally,” he explains.
Here, he shares more about how you can make your home a greener space, and the key design trends to watch.
“There’s one building, the Bosco Verticale in Milan, which I think is the greatest on the planet that’s been built right now. It’s a 10,000 tree vertical forest, and it’s mind-blowing. You see the way the balconies are designed so that the plants get plenty of sunshine. People worry about maintenance but the thing is, there’s no maintenance needed when you choose the right plant varieties for these green buildings.”
“I love working with recycled PET bottles. There’s a big future in the textile industry for that. So many fabrics are made of this now. Plastic bottles are malleable and non-biodegradable—why throw these into landfill when you could be making so many beautiful things with it. We make our vertical garden mats with it. I also love working with nature-derived items, as long as it’s sustainable. There’s also a new floorboard that I’ve started using in Hong Kong now. It’s made of rice husks, which is pretty easy to get in Asia. It’s a really beautiful exterior timber floorboard that feels like wood because it’s made from natural fibres.”
“For all the pieces we create (for eponymous furniture brand Durie Design), if we use a piece of wood, we plant five trees in return. When you set an example for the industry like that, it does have a ripple effect. We were the first in Australia to ever use 100 per cent FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) certified wood. A lot of other brands and retailers in Australia are now putting the FSC stamp on their furniture. For a lot of years they’ve resisted, because it costs more but it doesn’t cost a lot when you’re thinking about the future of the planets for your kids. When you make that fundamental change, there is a ripple effect. Now it’s a standard part of everyone’s furniture diet. It’s incredible what we can create now out of recycled materials like textile made of recycled plastic bottles.”
“The fields of architecture, landscape and interior design is also becoming more collaborative. The landscape and interiors are just as important as the very architecture itself. This is the future—when architects, landscape designers and interior designers all start designing at the same point. It’s only by working together hand in hand that we create symbiotic, sustainable and responsible design.”
“I think fashion has moved from the catwalks into our homes, in the form of furniture and decor. We’re expressing ourselves more now through furniture and decor far more than we ever were. That certainly wasn’t available to us 25 years ago. I think the new movement of design now is in furniture and decor. Calvin Klein, Armani, Fendi and more of the hottest fashion brands in the world are doing homeware and furniture now. You can buy a chair that has the same brand and quality, only now you sit in it everyday so you get more use of it and it expresses who you are.”
The Apartment: Rising Stars Edition finale will air on 16 May on Sony Channel (Singtel TV Channel 316/ Starhub Channel 510); episodes air every Thursday at 7.55pm.