One of the most famous female interior decorator’s of the 20th Century was the American Dorothy Draper. Her impressive legacy has been an inspiration to many women decorators across the globe and has inspired many thousands of room designs across the United States. One of the most fascinating aspects of Dorothy Draper was her style which was bold, brash, loud and impossible to miss. To say her designs shocked the people of her period is an understatement.
Dorothy Draper was brave and determined which led her to become one of the first women to move into the male dominated world of construction and interior design. Draper was a member of American high-society and became close friends with Eleanor Roosevelt. Many rich aristocrats, impressed with her bold designs, commissioned her to re-design their expensive homes. Her career took off and an impressive body of work followed.
New York’s Hotel Carlyle re-design was one of Dorothy Draper’s major projects. She also did makeovers for Washington’s Mayflower Hotel, World’s Fair Terrace Club, Hollywood’s Arrowhead Springs Hotel and the Palácio Quintandinha in Petrópolis located in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In later years she also designed car interiors and did work for groups like the Packard Motor Car Company and the Kaiser-Frazer Corporation.
However, Dorothy Draper is probably most well known for one of her books which achieved massive popularity during the mid 20th Century. Decorating Is Fun!: How to be Your Own Decorator was first published in 1939 on the eve of the Second World War. Believing that the home was a place of sanctuary in times of strife, Dorothy Draper’s book deals with creating an cheerful refuge where guests can be entertained in a colorful environment away from the troubles of the outside.
In 2004, after 60 years, the book ‘Decorating Is Fun!’ was republished in its entirety for a new generation of home designers to enjoy. Whilst it might seem old fashioned in a number of ways, the sales of the republished book as well as the positive reviews have shown that there are still many lessons and ideas to be gained from Dorothy Draper’s expertise and flamboyance. I recommend this book if you are looking for a Dorothy Draper biography and a collection of her designs.