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Dorothy Draper & Co. collection continues to grow [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette :: BC-HOME-DOROTHY-DRAPER:PG]

HIGH POINT, N.C. - Dorothy Draper slept here. Well, not exactly.

During the Spring High Point Market, Kindel Furniture showed off the new Tuxedo Park poster bed from the Dorothy Draper Collection. It's a reproduction of the famous designer's bed from her room in the Carlyle Hotel in New York City. The new version can be customized with or without a canopy or with four posters or just two.

"It's very versatile, depending on your preference," said Carleton Varney, president and owner of Dorothy Draper & Co. "All of the pieces we design for Kindel come from the archives of Dorothy Draper & Co."

Dorothy Draper & Co., American's oldest design firm, was founded in 1925 by Draper, who came from a privileged, old money family. The firm has had only had two president-owners; Draper was the first. Her protege, Varney, has steered the company into the 21st century while maintaining its distinctive look. Large chintz cabbage roses, black-and-white floors, and plaster reliefs all signal the Draper touch.

"It's about a magical color, magical patterns and magical scale," he said. "You will not forget the Dorothy Draper look."

The showroom was decked out in Draper fabrics, wallpaper and furniture as well as Varney lamps and accessories.

An example of the fearless mixing of color and pattern is the turquoise Channel Back lounge chair paired with the Dorotheum loveseat upholstered in a Draper signature fabric, Brazilliance, a large banana leaf pattern.

"The sofa was originally done in a bigger scale for the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York," he said.

It was designed for its restaurant, The Dorotheum.

The satin turquoise Channel Back chair was designed for the Mark Hopkins Hotel in San Francisco. Draper was hired to do many public spaces and hotels along with her residential work. One of her best-known projects was the Greenbrier in West Virginia.

"She was a person who could, as I feel I can, combine many prints in one room," Varney said.

He describes the technique as something like a garden, where you see a shapes, colors and sizes and somehow they all work together. "You can transfer that kind of pattern, scale and color into your own home."

Kindel Furniture, which is manufactured in Grand Rapids, Mich., will custom color any of the Draper pieces for clients. The Pinwheel chest shown here in green with gold accents can be ordered in more than 25 lacquer choices as can almost all of the Draper Collection. Custom coloring is also available through Kindel.

"People like to go back to the era of Dorothy Draper and Elsie de Wolfe, where they came in and painted walls and furniture," Varney said. "It was a time of high glamour."

Draper is credited with making interior design a business. "Like Frank Lloyd Wright, she created something that is called a look."

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