James Swan

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Episode 306: Darrin Varden

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Darrin Varden Design creates timeless interiors that are uniquely tailored to the needs and desires of each client without limitations to any specific style, trend or period. Instead, Darrin gathers inspiration from fashion, art, and history as well as from the daily design stimuli that come with living in New York City and traveling the world. He uses juxtaposition as a tool to create a dynamic between furnishings, textiles, art, lighting and architecture. This brings both interest and intrigue to a space. By guiding clients to move beyond what they envision for themselves, Darrin helps people experience the joy of discovering a home that fits their needs and fulfills their dreams even more than they could have anticipated.


Darrin grew up in the Seattle area, and even during childhood there were clues that he was born to design interiors. “I incessantly changed the decor of my bedroom and was always rearranging the furniture in our house the second my parents would leave for an evening out,” says the designer. His other passion, for world travel, determined his first vocation as a flight attendant. For fifteen years his love for design was satisfied only through working and re-working his New York apartments, until one evening when, along with his close friend the lauded furniture finisher and restorer Christophe Pourny, he threw a dinner party. Among the design industry guests Pourny had invited was noted designer/architect Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz, who admired Darrin’s sophisticated interior, commenting, “You should be a designer.” Darrin needed no more encouragement than that. Noriega-Ortiz became a mentor and Darrin joined BNO Design as a design assistant while applying, matriculating and graduating summa cum laude from the prestigious Fashion Institute of Technology. “Benjamin showed me the nuances of texture and of tone in interiors, and how to take an artist’s approach to design. That was really the foundation of my design education,” says Darrin.


Upon graduation from F.I.T. Darrin went to work as a designer for Charles Klein and two years later was invited to join the award-winning firm Drake Design Associates by its Principle, acclaimed designer Jamie Drake. Quickly promoted to Senior Designer, Darrin spent six years creating luxury residential interiors to the exacting standards that sustain Drake Design’s reputation for uncompromised excellence. “My years at Drake Design Associates were like the ultimate Master Class,” says Darrin, “Jamie particularly taught me about color relationships, understanding the equation of balancing them correctly and confidently, considering the values of resonance, hue and saturation and using color both as an aesthetic tool and to elicit an emotional response to a space. Today that knowledge influences my work regardless of what palette I’m working in.”


While at Drake Design, Darrin Varden further refined and elevated his capabilities, creating meticulously finished and highly detailed custom rooms. In that process, he came to admire the top tradesmen, craftspeople, fine artists and interior products manufacturers whose work he feels are of the highest value in creating truly distinguished interiors. A pillar of his own design practice is his deep respect for fine handcraft and his devotion to partnering with artists and artisans to incorporate superb custom elements, from unique furniture pieces to custom-printed textiles, custom carpets and fine art installations.


Darrin Varden Design was officially launched in spring 2013 and just one year later he was the recipient of the IFDA’s Rising Star Award for Interior Design. The firm has completed projects in New York’s historic Apthorp building and the luxurious downtown Setai Residences as well as on New York’s Upper East Side, the Hamptons, New Jersey and Washington, DC. Darrin has designed rooms for noteworthy design events such as the Bilotta/Lenox/Traditional Home event “Art of the Table” in the Architects & Designers Building, The Ronald McDonald House of Long Island’s “Project Design” and two room designs for the prestigious “Holiday House NYC” to benefit breast cancer research. His work has been featured editorially in media including Forbes, Houzz, Quintessence, The Editor at Large, Traditional Home, 1st Dibs, New York Cottages & Gardens and Lucky.

Explore Darrin’s Website here

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