Monday, August 30, 2010

Mad for Marion

Thanks to the non-drowsy decongestant I've been taking all weekend, I've been a little too revved-up to sleep. A little annoying, but on the bright side, I've redecorated my least, in my mind. I've decided that I need a small rug in my dressing room. I already have a nice wool, Wilton weave carpet in there right now (I'm a big fan of wall-to-wall carpet in bedrooms, closets, and dressing areas), but I think a throw rug would add some zip to the space. After all, a minimalist wardrobe, though chic on the body, is too subtle to do much in the way of decoration.

So what would be perfect in my dressing area is a Marion Dorn rug. I mean, if you're going to daydream, you might as well shoot for the stars. It would certainly be in keeping with the loose 1930s look that I'm going for. And if they were good enough for Syrie Maugham and Frances Elkins- both fans of Dorn's work- they are more than good enough for me.

(Speaking of Maugham, don't forget that Pauline Metcalfe's much anticipated book, Syrie Maugham, is being released in a few weeks. Look for a review here soon.)

This Dorn rug, c. 1930, was sold at Christie's for around $4300. The pale tones would be perfect for my room's color scheme of pinks, grays, and creams. The zig-zag design is reminiscent of the Dorn rug in Mrs. Celia Tobin Clark's bedroom (c. 1929-31; seen at the top of this post), a room decorated by Syrie Maugham.

Frances Elkins chose this beige and off-white Dorn rug for the bedroom of Ruth Winslow. The rug was a nice modern counterpoint to the traditional French floral chintz.

How chic was the Lounge at Claridge's Hotel, c. 1930? Decorated by Oswald Milne, the space was a combination of Art Deco and Modernist decor. The black and cream geometric patterned rug was, yes, by Dorn.

Another stylish room decorated by Maugham, this time the London drawing room of Mr. Robin Wilson. I wonder if that was a Dorn designed rug?

This Dorn work is/was available at a rug dealer in Paris.

Not quite the right colors for my dressing area, but this Dorn rug- auctioned off by Sotheby's- is certainly enchanting.

(Clark image from David Adler, Architect: The Elements of Style, Martha Thorne editor; Elkins image from Frances Elkins: Interior Design by Stephen Salny. Claridge's photo from Martin Battersby's The Decorative Thirties; Wilson drawing room photo from The Great Lady Decorators: The Women Who Defined Interior Design, 1870-1955 by Adam Lewis.)


  1. Love the first rug. Very chic. Hope you are well & have had a great summer.

  2. Nice to hear from you Gwen! I'm glad that fall is around the corner ;)

  3. Oh sometimes I get an idea for how I want to do a room at night and I get so excited about it I cannot sleep! Some great ideas and I do love that first rug!!

  4. I love looking back to decades past for design inspiration, and these rugs are certainly great to take into 2010. An idea you might consider is purchasing a great sculptured carpet and having it bound. I've seen some that are similar in design to the geometrics of Dorn. Buy the yardage you need and have it bound. It's a great way to get a big rug and a great savings as they are usually at least 13' across.

  5. I think your lovely new plan suits you - and you deserve it! You could be the new Nora Charles - solving design mysteries!

  6. Especially love the first two rugs. I also like the geometric rug, but I couldn't use it in my own home. It was beautiful in this space. Have a good week.

  7. There is a delightful Marion Dorn rug (although it's so large we in the UK would call it a carpet; a rug is a small thing you put in front of the fireplace or to stand on when you get out of bed) at Coleton Fishacre, a National Trust property, not far from where we live. It's pale harvest gold in a gorgeous Art Deco interior (although the outside of the property harks back to Arts & Crafts.)
    Margaret P

  8. Such a great post! love being able to look in on your dreams.

  9. Hopefully Alfie will like it once the weather gets cooler. Those are certainly some seriously stylish rugs.

  10. Anonymous9:56 PM

    In 2001 House & Garden recreated the entire Syrie Maugham bedroom you're showing-including that ZIg Zag rug!! I don't remember the issue (oct?) but it was their 100 year anniversary issue. They actually reproduced the entire room, making the wallpaper, all the furniture, upholstery , etc. It was very cool.

  11. Where is the rug dealer in Paris?

  12. Anonymous6:18 PM

    V'Soske also made alot of these rugs for Elkins and Maugham. They are still in business in NYC

  13. Sebastian1:49 PM

    Hello there, I read your blog whenever I can! A few months ago I found a beautifully painted, papier mache tray. Well, last night, with nothing to do I turned the tray over & saw the hallmark, "Marion V. Dorn, hand painted in Japan." However, I can only seem to find her rugs & textiles.

    Do you know anything about any trays she may have licensed out under her name? It's a black, handled tray, with a trompe l'oeil half peeled orange, with segments missing, peels in a cluster, etc. I can send you a picture if you would let me.

    Love your installments!