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Frank Lloyd Wright called Dorothy Draper “An inferior desecrator”. Strange that they both enjoyed success in the early 1900’s; One by being “Wright”; and one by feeling “right”. 

The Genius

The Genius

“I started this career because I loved doing houses. I’d done three of my own and I couldn’t keep on moving my family all the time, so I decided to decorate other people’s homes and buildings.” Dorothy Draper

 But the days of predjudice against unlicensed, non-architectural designers is over, Yes?

Recently I was notified by the AIA that I was in violation of a state code by saying we did “architectural design”.  They asked that we remove any reference to architectural design off our web site and advertising.

Not wanting to be sued, or waste the money of tax payers, I happily complied. And had no interest in becoming an architectural “firm”. The odd thing is by removing the words “architectural design” from our web page, isn’t going to change the scope of what we do: building facade design, office and retail store design, small home design, any size home redesign, conceptual designs for new buildings, etc. We are actively engaged with many clients who know that we will have a friend in architecture review drawings, seal drawings, etc…..if needed.

I asked the AIA lawyer how they found our “discretion”. He told us that a local architect had “turned us in”. When I asked if this architect was someone we knew, of course they couldn’t say. Quickly our thoughts went to projects where we competed with architects for design, and had won assignments, leaving the architect frustrated,  defensive and looking for work.

We have several great relationships with architectural offices with whom we can collaborate and use the resources of all involved firms.

Most of the time, our design projects are just plain fun.

We have had clients say, “What a relief, we were working with the prestigous XYZ group and I always felt I had to wear a tie when they showed up.”

 Good Design + Fun + Collaboration + Honesty = Repeat Work

But, not everyone appreciates or understands that process and obviously, it is threatening to some people’s livelihood.

 “I believe in doing the thing you feel is right. If it looks right, it is right.” Dorothy Draper

There are other opinions about Dorothy Draper. “Dorothy Draper was to decorating,” says interior designer Carleton Varney, “what Chanel was to fashion. The woman was a genius; there’d be no professional decorating business without her.” Architectural Digest May 2006.  (For more from Varney, please see the whole article.) Now she had money, position and great courage. But most importantly she had work, and did great design.

Some days I am very happy to be an “inferior desecrator” because we can change how people live and think. We create style and humor and great friends.  Some architects can do that too. Some architects are designers, but by training and licensing, most of them are watch dogs for safety, budget and sustainability. Which is very, very, very important.

But I would rather have fun.

For more about Dorothy Draper, here are a few links for your review. ENJOY!









Draper Book

Draper Book