Do you know the work of the iconic Design Masters that inspired the work of today’s Top Designers and Brands? This week My Design Agenda decided to bring you more than just the top information about the best design events in the world. We decided to travel to the past and give you some useful information about 5 Masters of Design of the 20th Century that inspired many of the top designers of today.
We’ll star with the iconic Dorothy Draper. You may not know this, but Draper opened what is arguably the first official interior design business, Architectural Clearing House, in 1925. She extended her elegant “modern Baroque” style to many public buildings, including the cafeteria at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Fairmont and Mark Hopkins hotels in San Francisco, and, most famously, a total redesign of the Greenbrier in West Virginia. Some of her rooms have a restrained color palette of classic black and white, while others showcase a wild Technicolor mash-up of pinks with greens, turquoise, and orange.
Well-heeled, well-connected Sister Parish was born in 1910 to parents with homes in Manhattan, New Jersey, Maine, and Paris. She attended the Chapin School in Manhattan and married Henry Parish in 1930. Her style was a counterpoint to her antiques collector father’s heavy, dark, brown furniture and is credited with popularizing that American country aesthetic in the 1960s. Her unforgiving assessment of a client’s space before she started any design project involved rolling a tea cart around the room, editing out any items that didn’t meet with her approval.
Tennessee-born Albert Hadley became known for his modern style, which deftly incorporated a mix of design styles thanks to his seemingly innate sense of balance and what worked together. Hadley joined forces with Sister Parish in 1962: Parish-Hadley Associates styled the homes of America’s elite for decades but is probably best known for redecorating the Kennedy White House, as well as the Kennedy family’s own homes.
Jean-Michel Frank was the most celebrated decorator and designer of the era. Known as a minimalist, it’s Frank’s layer of maximalism that makes his work so interesting and complex. His projects were often to decorate rooms with Picassos and Braques hanging on the walls, and his circles included everyone from Parisian artists to socialites, Man Ray to the Rockefellers.
Born in New York City in 1865, Elsie de Wolfe boasted a lifestyle as glamorous as her decor. Known as “America’s first decorator,” her history reads not just as one wild romance and adventure novel, but several different ones. De Wolfe successfully restyled the house on Irving Place that she shared with Marbury, eschewing the stuffy Victorian decorating approach of her day by decluttering, simplifying, and warming up its gloomy and too-busy interiors.
All of these design masters paved the way for the designers of today and for the entire design industry. Who is your favorite? Tell us about other design masters that you know and that are just as inspiring as these five iconic designers!