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Making a Statement: "Brazilliance" by Dorothy Draper


One of the first things you notice when you walk in the door at Holy City Salsa is the bright green banana leaf accent wall. It's fun, it's funky, and it has a story.

The wallpaper, called "Brazilliance," was created by the leading lady of Interior Design, Dorothy Draper, for her renovation of The Greenbrier Hotel in 1940s

I stumbled upon it by accident. I knew that I wanted the studio to have a look I dubbed "vintage tropical." I started culling Pinterest for inspiration, and every time I searched "tropical decor," pins featuring fabulous banana leaf wallpaper would crop up.

But I had a choice. I could go with the Martinique Banana Leaf wallpaper, made by Don Loper for the Beverly Hills Hotel in the 40s...

OR I could go with Brazilliance, by Dorothy Draper.


I liked the brighter greens and the grape clusters in Brazilliance, but once I did some research, I found that even more than the wallpaper, I liked the idea of featuring a design by Dorothy Draper.

She was a pioneer in her field. She's credited for making Interior Design an actual profession, and she was a lady going into business for herself in a creative industry in the 1940s. Can you imagine? 

I bet that she had a lot of naysayers. A lot of haters.

She chose bold prints, bright colors, designs that went against the grain. She wasn't afraid to make a statement. 

And she knew the importance of a well-designed space. What it could do for the mind. For the soul.

"[There] seems to be within all of us an innate yearning to be lifted momentarily out of our own lives into the realm of charm and make believe." -Dorothy Draper

I related to her philosophy. My idea for the studio was to create a place where you could feel whisked away from your daily life. Where you would feel transported to a different place, a different time. Where you could meet different people from all over, and not be able to tell if you were in a strip mall in West Ashley or in a another world. 

The way she related to her work spoke to me too and what I'm trying to achieve at the studio.

"You don't sell a commodity, you sell joy, gaiety, excitement. You aim at people's hearts, not their minds." -Dorothy Draper

It's all about the experience and the feeling that people get when they walk in the door at Holy City Salsa.  I think the wallpaper plays a huge part in creating those important feelings.

 It makes people feel happy. It makes them feel like they can have fun. It makes them feel like they can make a bold choice, whether it's asking someone new to dance, putting up a bright accent wall in their own home, or embarking on a new adventure like international travel or a different job.

Every time I look at the wall, I see part of Dorothy Draper's story and her legacy. It keeps me inspired. Motivated. It makes me want to continue pressing forward and growing my community,  making my statements, even on the days when it gets tough or I want to give up. 

"Never look back, except for an occasional glance, look ahead and plan for the future. Success is not built on past laurels, but rather on a continuous activity. Keep busy searching out new ideas and, experimentally, keep ahead of the times, or at least up with them." -Dorothy Draper

Stay tuned for more stories about Holy City Salsa Dance Studio!