June has arrived and soon it will be summer. With that, Father’s Day is right around the corner. This month, Christine is reflecting on a few men who have inspired her throughout her career. This group of designers and art patrons range from those who have founded fabric houses, to furniture designers, to interior designers.
Henry Clay Frick, a Pittsburgh industrialist born in 1849, became a serious art collector in his early forties. Frick was born in southern Pennsylvania and in his early twenties he began the H.C. Frick Coke Company and partnered with the Carnegie Brothers Steel Company ten years later. He moved from Pennsylvania to New York City in 1905, where his residence was being built. Frick’s home remains on Fifth Avenue and is one of the last remaining Gilded Age mansions. Frick filled the home with works completed by Bellini, Whistler, Goya, Gainsborough, Rembrandt, and Vermeer. When Frick died, he left his estate to the community and his children turned the family home into a museum to share their father’s love of the arts with everyone. Christine first visited “The Frick” in her early twenties and it remains one of her favorite museums to this day. In January of this year, Christine traveled to her home territory to visit Vermeer’s The Girl with the Pearl Earring there prior to the painting’s return to the Netherlands.
Carleton Varney was the design assistant to Dorothy Draper and is now the president and owner of Dorothy Draper and Co. Inc. located in New York. On the left is an image of the Greenbrier Resort, which was designed by Dorothy Draper and Co. Inc. Varney continues to act as designer and curator for the resort today. Varney believes that spaces shape who we are. He asks his new students to picture the first room they can remember and then describe everything about it, the smells, look, feel of the room, textures etc. While Carleton is a Massachusetts native, he received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Oberlin College in Ohio. Varney is a very versatile designer and is often referred to as “Mr. Color”. Carleton continues the beliefs of Dorothy Draper which include “the use of bright colors and the rejection of all that is impractical, uncomfortable and drab”. Varney has designed everything from dinnerware, crystal, scarves, furniture and fabrics that Christine has used throughout her career. Last summer, Christine had the privilege of meeting Mr. Varney at the Greenbrier Resort.
Antony Little is one of the founders of Osborne and Little, a fabric house in London. This company cherishes its reputation as a globally renowned business that is innovative, utilizes bright and colorful hues for their products, and has a very high standard for quality. Christine met Mr. Little in Chicago and she vividly remembers him, a man of shorter stature, climbing on top of a table in the showroom to allow people to see and hear him more clearly. On the right is an image from an Osborne and Little campaign.
Mark Hampton was considered to be a legendary designer of the 20th century until his untimely passing in 1998. Mark focused on the comfort of a space. Hampton often combined “the rationality of American sense with the romance of English sensibility” into his designs. These traditions continue on today through Mark’s daughter, Alexa, who has been the president of Mark Hampton, Inc. since her father’s death. Christine recalls one of Mark’s striking designs: a living room with chocolate brown walls and white furniture. On the left is an image of Mark and one of his classic designs.
Each of these men has influenced Christine and each of them has their own approach to design. The hallmark trait they all share is thinking and designing outside the box. Whether it is the bright, bold colors or believing that design is part of everyone, these men have embraced design and brought it to people all around the world.
“Design is not just what it looks and feels like. Design is how it works.” –Steve Jobs