Designer Snapshot: Carleton Varney

Designer Snapshot: Carleton Varney

Carleton Varney... President, Dorothy Draper & Co. Inc.

Designers Today: What are the three most important elements of great design?

Carleton Varney: Three elements. Suitability for the project. Appropriate scale. And wow factor - impact on the eyes.

Why do you think Dorothy Draper’s aesthetic endures?

Dorothy created a look that is recognizable. Furnishings had a glamour appeal. She was the black and white movie star in the field! She had a wow factor that was always remembered. Today everyone seeks a touch of glamour in their world. Only a touch is all that is sought!

How have you added your own signature to the Dorothy Draper line?

My style continues Dorothy’s sense of color. Schemes that radiate happy smiles. I combine the color with the conveniences of today - scientific elements in technological furnishings, sound and lighting effects.

What are some of the biggest mistakes that contemporary interior designers make?

One is always inventing and reinventing. One must remember to learn and grow and readapt but never lose sight of who you are and what you know and what your passion is. Mine is a look for magical color - nothing boring. I am aware of changes in color from place to place. Light in London is not light in Miami. What contemporary designers want to do is reinvent the wheel and rid themselves of all that is past. Not ever possible. Huge mistake.

What is the secret to a successful interior design career in the future?

Success in a career is to never retire. Keep your eyes and ears open. Continue to travel. Taste the differences in cultures. Carefully mix the cultures in art and furnishings. And primarily, enjoy. Study the cultures through textiles.

Prior to her role with Designers Today, Cindy attended markets as both a consumer home furnishings editor and interior design client. She has written about the design industry for more than 15 years and still finds editorial inspiration in every corner of the world, from Italian villas to Atlanta urban lofts to country escape tiny homes.