Dorothy Draper: Woman of Style and Inspiration

Dorothy_Draper_1942Interior design is a professional undertaking that’s older than countless modern comforts, including the telephone and the radio. In the mid- to late-19th century, personal advisors were selected to furnish homes; and far before that, interior designers were brought on to dress hotels, offices, public buildings, complexes, and palaces. They were masters who were called upon to use their decorative eye to colorize windows, doors, and columns, utilizing the expertise of craftsmen, artisans, and architects.

As the profession progressed, functional design, planning, and efficient use space grew in importance. The occupation increased in popularity. Even as time has passed, word of mouth persisted as the best way to discover and locate a master of interior space. Even as technology has enabled greater access to new voices in the industry and granted access to resources that ease the creative process, industry experts haven’t forgotten to pay respect to the aesthetics of the past, and those who created traditions within its history.

Let’s discuss, for example, Dorothy Draper. Draper wasn’t merely a woman of individual style, she was an innovator, a reinventor, and an individual who seamlessly combined modern flair and classic style. A woman of countless phrases and quotes, she once stated,  “Never look back, except for an occasional glance, look ahead and plan for the future. Success is not built on past laurels, but rather on a continuous activity. Keep busy searching out new ideas and, experimentally, keep ahead of the times, or at least up with them.” This particular spoke to her giving nature as a conceptualist and an artist.

The author of “Decorating Is Fun!,”Draper coined the “Draper touch,” which referred to her mastery of contrast, combine colors, oversized details, mirrors, and dramatic design. She offered her clients and the public cheerful elegance and bold color in order to deepen awareness of balance, a sense of light, and a celebration of life. She opened the Architectural Clearing House in 1925, which is recognized as the first official interior design business. Her protégé Carleton Varney once stated, “Dorothy Draper was to decorating what Chanel was to fashion.”

The anti-minimalist thrived on the notion of the frequent use of color, large print, and bold choice. Born into an aristocratic family, Draper didn’t learn sophisticated color, glamor or taste from schooling, instead, she learn on the job. She learned from redecorating homes and swimming through an impressive social circle that involved making laps around celebrated family and friends, such as Eleanor Roosevelt and President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Additionally, Draper is the cousin of the influential interior designer, Sister Parish, also known as Dorothy May Kinnicutt. Sister Parish, like Draper, was a well-heeled interior stylist with an impeccable understanding of diverse aesthetics. Draper will go down in history as an impressive icon who has been honored by the Museum of the City of New York. Examples of her work have been featured in exhibitions across the nation, and she’s inspired countless interior designers, including Nancy Price.

Learn more about Dorothy Draper and other industry greats by reading “7 Legendary Interior Designers Everyone Should Know,” by Elizabeth Brownfield,
published by Vogue.


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Nancy Price Interior Design is a Jackson, Mississippi-based interior design firm that's owned and operated by Nancy Price and her husband. Nancy Price enjoys bringing a balance of art and comfort to her clients. Learn more about Nancy Price by following her on Twitter and Instagram.