"Decorating IS Fun!

"Dorothy Draper was to decorating what Chanel was to fashion. The woman was a genius; there'd be no professional decorating business without her," says interior designer Carleton Varney.

In 1923, interior designer, Dorothy Draper opened the first professional design company in the United States giving birth to the American interior design industry. She has been credited with single-handedly creating the industry.

Lobby of The Greenbriar
Until Dorothy Draper, rooms were created to reflect a "period" and design was drab. Dorothy created a colorful, bold style now known as Modern Baroque or American Baroque. She used unique color combinations that were never seen before like aubergine and pink with chartreuse and turquoise, revolutionizing American design. One of her favorite combinations was a dull white paired with a shiny black. According to Dorothy, "every room needs a touch of black".

via Dorthydraper.com
Ms. Draper favored public spaces, creating spaces for people to "come and feel elevated in the presence of great beauty, where the senses could look and feel and absorb the meaning of a quality life." (Dorothy Draper & Co.) She redesigned several tenements and residences turning New York's Sutton Place into one of "Manhattan's chicest addresses" (Varney).  She became known for transforming public spaces, hotels and resorts like The Greenbrier, Museum of Modern Art's restaurant, nicknamed The Dorotheum and landmark hotels like The Fairmont and The Hampshire House, even the interiors of airplanes and a line of automobiles for Packard and Chrysler. Her Victorian Writing Room at The Greenbrier was once called the "most photographed room in the United States."

Museum of Modern Art cafeteria
Victorian Writing Room, The Greenbrier

By the 1940's, Ms. Draper was America' leading trendsetter with her signature cabbage rose chintz, color palette and use of large over-sized mirrors and accessories. Even after her death, Dorothy Draper is still a trendsetter. In 2006, she was honored with a retrospective of her work at the Museum of the City of New York. This was the first time such an honor was bestowed on an interior designer.

In honor of Dorothy's birthday, November 22, we celebrate her contribution to design and her lasting legacy. Her use of color and pattern and her confidence in design inspire us to look at our own spaces and see that, as her 1939 book says, "Decorating Is Fun!"

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