On January 21st 2009 I was running late, caught in traffic,
on the cell with Margaret (Carleton Varney’s Assistant), asking her what she would be wearing, explaining what I was wearing………trying to make this interview happen.
Margaret Landry was as nice as you ‘ wouldn’t imagine .’ I expected a ‘Gate Keeper’ of sorts, but she was nice, friendly and genuinely helpful
And there he was…all Carleton Varney-ish !!
He was the ‘Real Deal.’ And He Was Fabulous !!!
He was dressed in a white linen suit; he was tanned, and had gorgeous lightish-blondish hair, and a disarming smile. Carleton Varney is very handsome , yet still retaining a boyish quality, which as all we ladies know, is so attractive!!!’
I ask you, is there anything more perfectly Palm Beach than that ?
His happiness, his favorite design projects, art, his hobbies ,
his favorite places to be, words for young designers,
and will he retire ?
Answer: Carleton Varney ( CV ) told me he was happy to be alive. He had a great big smile and leaned back. Them he proceeded to tell me about how wonderful his parents were, and that they just wanted him to be happy. They taught him not to be wasteful, and to give of yourself without expecting anything in return.
A: My favorite color is green, and I love blue as well.
I had to nail him down on the blue that he loved , and I came away understanding it to be ‘ AZURE Blue‘ ( which is my fave too ) .
A: CV thought that is was The Greenbriar, he loved the black and white floors , the wallpaper and fabrics. He loved all of the colors and patterns and the way it came together.
Q: Favorite Job ?
A: He said ‘ THE WHITE HOUSE’ ( JIMMY CARTER . 1977-1981 ).
CV told me that the experience was incredible.
Carleton Varney got to know President Carter and the 1st Lady on a personal level. Everyone treated him with kindness, and in addition, he was exposed to international dignitaries, and some of the world’s most powerful political players. CV was clearly moved when discussing the relationships he established with some of these people.
The experience, I am sure, was an awesome one.
( please note pictures included in this post as it relates to the players in President Carters White House )
A: CV said that ‘In Jamaica, lying on a boat, in a beautiful lagoon’ with the breeze blowing through the leaves of of the trees. Just feeling like he “never had to move again”, surrounded by swaying palms , blue skies, and the turquoise water
A: CV told me that he wants to be able to ‘ follow through’ on all that he has to do.
He wants to be able to ‘ find commitment’. ( have the time to actually start and finish )
He wishes that he had more time. Carleton Varney told me that Ethel Merman once told him; “ Get On The Boat Before It Leaves The Pier “.
A: CV said to me that he loves painting, and so he told me another cute story….
CV was friends with Anita Young, who was Georgia O’Keeffe’s sister. One day while CV was over at Anita Young’s house, Anita Young was rummaging through a closet of hers that was stuffed with her sister’s ( Georgia O’Keeffe ) work.
Miss Young did not like ( not even a tiny bit ) Georgia O’Keefe’s work.
Anita Young looked at Carleton Varney and asked him if he wanted some paintings ?
CV did not accept the offer , he told me.
And laughing , he said; “ I sure wish I had ! “
Q: Will you retire ?
that is your favorite ?
A: Mr. Varney had to really think, I came back to this question several times trying to pin him down. And finally he told me that it was a fabric that he designed for the Shah of Iran & Queen Farah.
What was left over of this fabric was still lying around in his bedroom.
It was a woven ,with pale yellows and turquoise. The fabrics name is: ‘Faraldhi’. Carleton Varney’s one regret with this design is that he did not create the Wall-Covering.
( my regret as well )
A: Yes, “ You Must Be Born One. “. He told me that even if you have a proper interior design education, it is the way a real designer sees the world. It is placement and presentation. And to put it really simply , he said; “ You don’t prepare a dinner plate with steak , cauliflower and mashed potatoes” , “ it’s just not pretty.”
“ Use carrots or peas.”
Mr Varney has done so much, if you listen to his Life-Time Achievement Award Acceptance Speech on my other blog; Design EXPOSED , you will hear how brilliant and accomplished he is, yet still a man who retains humility and gratitude.
As much as I am in awe of his life’s achievements, I find this to be his crowning achievement.
I felt very fortunate to have met him, and to have been surrounded by his warm energy and generous nature. And for sharing with me some of his wisdom, and a few great little stories.
Thank You for the interview Mr.Varney. xx
Go Here :
Renee Finberg 'TELLS ALL' in her blog of her Adventures in Design......
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