Dorothy Draper (1889 – 1969) American interior designer

dorothy draper black and white portrait
dorothy draper black and white portrait

Dorothy Draper (1889 – 1969) was an American interior designer. She was born in Tuxedo Park, New York. Draper’s upper-crust upbringing, Tuxedo Park was one of the first gated communities in the United States. Dorothy’s parents were part of an old New England family with longstanding social connections. Dorothy’s childhood was spent playing in high-ceilinged ballrooms.

Biography

After World War I, she initially became known through the renovation of her own house, on the Upper East Side Manhattan.

She owned a house, in Tuxedo Park, New York, where she designed numerous houses.

In 1925, established Architectural Clearing House, matching architects to appropriate commissions. In 1929, designed Carlyle Hotel public areas, 35 East 76th Street, New York, in a so-called ‘Roman Deco’ style. 

A pair of Dorothy Draper–designed barrel-back chairs are a perfect counterpoint to the ceiling. The Denver Magazine

Her oversized, loudly spoken decors appeared in commissions that followed, including apartment buildings, restaurants, hotels, and department stores. Draper established a reputation for hotels and restaurants with her decor for the Greenbriar resort, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. In 1935-36, the Hampshire House, Central Park South, New York City, whose cabbage-rose chintz became a trendy Schumacher fabric. The vibrant scarlet doors with white frames and black exterior walls became a fashionable design appurtenance.

She designed; 

  • 1935 interiors the Mark Hopkins Hotel, San Francisco; 
  • 1940. The Camellia Room in Drake Hotel, Chicago; 
  • 1944 interiors, Quitandinha resort, Petrópolis (near Rio de Janeiro), Brazil; 
  • public and private rooms, Statler Hotel chain in the late 1930s and 1940s; 
  • 1954 the Roman-inspired restaurant of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. 

Dorothy Draper Fabrics and Wallcoverings

The online shop for decorators to order exclusive and unique fabrics and wallpapers from Dorothy Draper Fabrics & Wallcoverings, an established design firm with installations that grace the rooms of some of the world’s most beautiful resorts and residences.

A celebrity

A well-known personality, she wrote books, appeared on her radio program, and produced a regular column for Good Housekeeping magazine during World War II and was director of the magazine’s Studio of Living.

Floral chintz a Draper favourite
Floral chintz a Draper favourite

She pioneered the picture window, white organdy curtains, and chenille bedspreads in her interior design, incorporated dark, bold colours and used outsized fabric motifs, wide mouldings, and large black-and-white marble floor tiles. Much of the furniture and textiles in America of the 1940s and 1950s were designed or inspired by Dorothy Draper. Designs included 1947 Brazilance and Scatter Floral fabrics for Schumacher and 1940s Stylized Scroll for Waverly. In 1960, she sold her business. 

Not all rave reviews

Draper did not always play to rave review. A 1954 article in the Washington Post and Times-Herald reviewed her makeover of the old Roman court in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art into a new restaurant.

“The kindest thing that can be said is that it looks like a bad Joan Crawford movie,” wrote the critic.

Brazilliance By Dorothy Draper

Truly iconic in design, this wallpaper is a tropical, large scale ,Palm Beach-inspired print designed by Dorothy Draper. PRICED AND SOLD BY THE 10 YARD DOUBLE ROLL Roll dimensions:10 yards by 27 in. Pattern Repeat: 35.5″ Square Footage: One double roll covers 67 square feet All sales final

Sources

Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The design encyclopedia. Laurence King Publishing.

Koncius, J. (2006, June 4). Rediscovering a Design Legend. The Orlando Sentinel. https://www.newspapers.com/image/268881297/?terms=%22dorothy%20draper%22&match=1.

Sheehan, S. (2004). The Greenbrier – Keeping the Spirit of Dorothy draper Alive Is a Labour of Love. Architectural Digest, 61(5). https://archive.org/details/architecturaldig62octlosa/page/n549/mode/2up.

The Board – MacRae Designs Blog: Dorothy Draper. https://macraedesigns.blogspot.com/2012/03/dorothy-draper.html

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