Welcome back to the eighteenth feature from the Collective Series by The Idle Man. Where we meet up with interesting men who either work in the creative industry, or we just admire the work they do. Styled in our most recent collections, drops, and photographed by our Editor Cal McIntyre, read the full feature below as we believe it's more about what we do, rather than what we wear. To shop the products Jamie Song is wearing simply click the images.
Meet Jamie Song, better known as Jamie’s Jungle, due to his home being an array of unique and beautiful plants – you've probably seen some of his photos on Instagram without realising. Born in Taiwan Song has spent most of his adult life in the US and UK, settling down for the past 10 years in London. It’s impossible not to be captivated by the plant lover’s apartment in the middle of London, hence his 180k followers on Instagram.
From floor to wall to ceiling Song has dressed his home in leafy greens and vibrant looking plants forming what is essentially an urban jungle. Aside from his plant collecting hobby which has drawn the most attention, Song’s personal career isn’t far from what you’d expect of someone of his nature, he runs an online vintage retailer of rare collectables - the Bureau of Interior Affairs.
Starting out his adult life, Song visited Bali in his mid-20’s on a trip to explore new places and here began his love for nature and in particular plants during what could be described as a numinous experience. Since his trip, wherever Song lived he always enjoyed having a few plants around him until he moved to London and bought an old converted hydraulic power station apartment.
His new flat offered the perfect conditions for plant growth with its high ceilings and tall windows and skylight. Unlike others who enjoy introducing plants into their homes, Song is known for hunting far and wide for rare and impressive species. Including having his mother buy plants for him in Taiwan who brings them over with the appropriate documentation when visiting.
It comes as no surprise that Song’s collection of plants takes up a lot of his spare time. Spending the majority of his weekends watering, nurturing his greenery and picking up new accessories for his jungle. The self-confessed hoarder has previously spoken out saying he used to suffer from seasonal affective disorder, but since bringing life into his home he no longer finds the gloomy seasonal changes a problem.
This isn’t the only benefit to having plants in your home, from a NASA experiment it was found that plants improve the air quality in their surroundings. It was found that depending on the type, they can reduce the amount of cancer-causing volatile organic compounds like Benzene.
Even though maintaining his collection of plants, Song still has his professional career to keep up with. Running an online vintage retailer alongside friends of his called Bureau of Interior Affairs (BIA), where he finds and sells one of a kind objects and art. Using his own apartment as a studio, you can find beautiful artwork, sculptures and furniture for sale on the website (bialondon.com).
Taking the time to help him water a few of plants in his collection, The Idle Man is heading down to Song’s magnificent apartment to discuss his prized possessions and his business on the side with BIA.
Can you describe your trip to Bali that captivated your love for plants?
I was in my mid-twenties when I first went to Bali. Prior to that visit I had only appreciated nature from the point of view of breathtaking grand landscapes as one gets, for instance, from being on a mountain peak or seeing the ocean from afar. But in Bali my experience of nature was life-changing. I was awestruck by the beauty and variety of tropical plants - their colour, texture, variety, fragrance and sheer exotic splendour. This time nature was up close and I couldn’t help but accept its invitation to this magical world.
Visually, we can see that your home is quite the array of various beautiful plants. Do you have any plans to keep expanding your collection?
I think my home has reached its interior-plant-capacity level, or IPCL (haha). On the other hand, I do have plans to build a small greenhouse in the outside alcove near my bedroom. I only hope that can quench my thirst for hoarding more plants.
What was your initial reason for starting BIA London?
In 2011 my friend, Vince, and I joined a grape harvest at a winery in Northern Provence. We fell in love with the area and Vince bought a small house which we started decorating by going to vintage and antique fairs in the region. We were surprised by the range of things on offer and started also buying art and objects with the idea of selling them on. This was pretty much on a whim. Before you know it, we started a company and much to our surprise, we were actually making sales! Since then we’ve found our niche of selling vintage art and objects online via specialised platforms for luxury items. The rest is history.
What intrigues you about selling vintage collectables?
Each item we buy is unique and I love imagining its history and particularly the life stories of the previous owners. What I love even more than selling them is hunting for them. The fun is in the chase. Having said that, when we make a sale it is incredibly satisfying. We don’t particularly have specialised training or education in this field but I find it very easy picking out things I find beautiful. For me it’s a very intuitive process. Fortunately, my taste seems to agree with that of our clients, many of whom are interior designers.
You sell a lot of art and sculptures, did you have an interest in fine art prior to setting up BIA?
I have a real love of design. My business partner loves fine art and he is the one who writes up our fine art listings with flair. My Mum is also a huge lover of the arts and I’m very thankful she exposed me to this world when I was a kid. Whenever we speak, she reminds me that I have her dream job.
What do your friends and family think when they come round to visit?
Before my Instagram account had a significant following, my friends and family thought I had an addiction to hoarding plants as well as vintage objects and considered an intervention. Now with a large IG following I generate income as an influencer and our vintage gallery is profitable too - all of a sudden they don’t think I have a problem anymore.
Do you think that whilst you home offers an amazing studio for photo shoots, does it ever become a hindrance when it comes to hosting?
It is weird combing one's living and working spaces. My home is office, showroom, warehouse, greenhouse and living space all in one. But now I’m used to that, and it's pure joy being surrounded by the things I love whether I’m working or entertaining friends at home.
Truthfully, do you think you have a few too many plants or are you going to go and buy more this weekend?
I do think that I have a few too many plants but I can’t help myself going to the plant shops every weekend. In principle I don’t want to add to my collection but sometimes I can’t help myself because I don’t want to miss something beautiful. I try my best to restrain myself…but that’s a battle I seem to be losing.