Friday, September 30, 2011

WHY: Carleton Varney

“Taste is like fog: You can see it and you can feel it, but you can never touch it.” – Carleton Varney

Thursday, September 29, 2011

WHERE: The Greenbrier

“The Casino Club, with architecture by Michael Oliver McClung, includes three restaurants, a shopping concourse, and gaming rooms. The entry foyer combines all the colors I love with a traditional black-and-white checkerboard floor pattern in marble. The eighteen-inch squares are laid out on the diagonal – a Dorothy Draper design must. The columns are covered in a cerulean-blue-and-white-striped wallpaper, while Brazilliance, a pattern of green banana and grape leaves on a white ground, plays along the main walls. I like to think of accessories and special antique pieces as the ‘jewelry’ in a space. In this hallway, the gold acanthus-leaf detail on the black-lacquer credenza and the brass railings on the stairs leading up to the hotel’s reception lobby add a glittering touch.”

Copy and image courtesy “Mr. Color: The Greenbrier and Other Decorating Adventures” (image via

To purchase a copy of “Mr. Color: The Greenbrier and Other Decorating Adventures” by Carleton Varney, please visit

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

WHEN: The Early Days at Dorothy Draper and Company, Inc.

At What’s New What’s Next 2011, Carleton Varney painted a vivid picture of life in Dorothy Draper’s New York offices in the mid-twentieth century:

“We worked in a large room with black walls and white desks – because Dorothy used to say that those were the only color surfaces you could really look at color against. Every day she would go through the design studio, desk by desk, talking to each designer about their work. And she would stand there, rolling her arms in front of her” – and here he gestured dramatically, with arms stretched long – “and she would declare, ‘Show me nothing that looks like gravy!’”

Image courtesy The Museum of the City of New York.

Monday, September 26, 2011

WHO: Carleton Varney

It’s no secret that Carleton Varney is a color person. “I like bright colors, bold contrasts and floral patterns.” But when he feels the need to reflect and renew, the private Varney retreats to the soothing palette of a simpler landscape. “I have done several jobs in Ireland, and I have a house there. It’s a spot for me to recharge.” He sees travel as inspiration and uses the rich landscapes for research. Since becoming owner and president of Dorothy Draper & Company at age 29, Varney has applied Draper’s vibrant style to singular interiors for private planes, yachts, hotels and homes around the world.

For more information, please visit or .

Image and copy courtesy Architectural Digest.

WEEKLY Ws: Mr. Color

Sometimes what seems like a misstep sends you down a new and exciting path. Last week at What’s New What’s Next, Baker hosted two Wall Street Journal-sponsored presentations. I thought I was going to hear staff editors discuss design trends, but instead I wandered into a presentation by Sara Story and Carleton Varney. It turned out to be one of the most informative, entertaining and enjoyable hours I’ve ever spent at a design center! We're sharing Carleton Varney’s wit and wisdom this week, and one word of advice: If you ever have the opportunity to hear him speak – GO!

Friday, September 9, 2011

WHY: Albert Hadley

“The essence of interior design will always be about people and how they live. It is about the realities of what makes for an attractive, civilized, meaningful environment, not about fashion or what’s in or what’s out. This is not an easy job.” – Albert Hadley

Thursday, September 8, 2011

WHERE: “What’s New, What’s Next at 200 Lex”

Professional development works two ways… Share your insights on what YOU think is new and noteworthy during “What’s New, What’s Next” at the New York Design Center on September 20, and you could inspire someone else to get a bit more involved in the business of design!

Since this afternoon and evening event features presentations from publications including Architectural Digest and House Beautiful; shares design info via open houses and lectures at showrooms from 1st Dibs to Profiles; and covers topics from industry legends to emerging trends, it’s a must-attend for the New York design community.

For a complete schedule of events and information on how you can share your industry insights, please visit See you at 200 Lex!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

WHEN: “The Dos and Don’ts of Designing Your Own Line,” October 12 and 18

You’ve got great ideas for launching your own line – but how do you start? Before you put pen to paper, attend “The Dos and Don’ts of Designing Your Own Line” on October 12 (at New York’s Decoration & Design Building) or October 18 (at the Washington Design Center). A panel of home furnishings experts including legendary designer Jamie Drake; legal and licensing expert Kate Verner; Edward Ferrell-Lewis Mittman President Jobi Blachy and other will share their experiences and provide valuable tips on how to create, market and sell your line.

For more information, please visit or

Image courtesy Schumacher.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

WHAT: “Interior Design Industry” at NYU

Everyone needs to start somewhere!

Whether you're considering an interior design career by starting your own company or joining an existing firm, acquire a working knowledge of the principles and business practices of interior designers. Topics include an overview of the industry, governmental standards and professional requirements, design project phases and scope, standard fees and compensation, the essence of good working relationships with clients, and letters of agreement and contracts. The course will also cover the elements of purchasing, including estimates; quotes; placing orders; and specifying furniture, fabric, and finishes, especially on custom goods.

This course meets Saturday, October 1 and Sunday, October 2 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. The fee is $495. For more information, please visit

Info courtesy New York University. Image courtesy

Monday, September 5, 2011

WHO: Elsie DeWolfe

Elsie De Wolfe’s well-cultivated popularity and outsize persona coincided with a rise in interest in interior design in the early 1900s. She wrote The House in Good Taste, and The New Yorker credited her with inventing the profession of interior design.

De Wolfe transformed the design of wealthy homes from the dark Victorian style into designs featuring light, fresh colors and a reliance on 18th-century French furniture and reproductions. She helped popularize faux finishes and leopard print.

In addition to being one of the pioneers of American interior design, De Wolfe was a true character. She practiced yoga and stood on her head daily at age 70. She married Sir Charles Mendl, a diplomat, but scandalized Paris society when she once turned handsprings as an entrance to a fancy-dress ball. She inspired lyrics by Irving Berlin and Cole Porter.

And on first seeing the Parthenon, De Wolfe exclaimed “It’s beige – my color!”

Image and info courtesy Wikipedia. For more information, please visit this month’s edition of

Weekly Ws: The Business of Design

Labor Day got us thinking about what it takes to work in the interior design, architecture and home furnishings industries. This week we’ll reflect on some of the best people, places and philosophies connected to the business of design.