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Introducing Designer Maryline Damour, A Shop & Buy Local Enthusiast

RugNews.com celebrates Black History Month by spotlighting Black designers who should be on your radar. First up is designer Maryline Damour, founder of the Kingston Design Showhouse in New York.

Lisa Vincenti
portrait of designer Maryline Damour
Designer Maryline Damour. Photo credit: Allie Holloway

KINGSTON, N.Y. -- Fifty miles north of the Big Apple, the picturesque Hudson Valley wasn't on the radar of America's design cognoscenti until weekend resident Marline Damour decided to make it her full-time home.

That was five years ago, soon after she left corporate America to embark on a second career as an interior designer, earned a degree in interior design from the Parsons The New School for Design, and resettled in Kingston, where she founded Damour Drake with partner Fred Drake.

Damour's nascent full-service design-build firm encountered an unexpected dilemma as a newcomer to the region. She found it difficult to connect with related industry players, such as local artisans, architects and designers, and as a result conceived the Kingston Design Connection, followed by the group's first annual Kingston Design Showhouse in 2018. The design network and showhouse have served as a vehicle to bring the local design-build community together and highlight local interior design resources and businesses -- a top priority in Damour's work -- and a leitmotif that has become even more important to her during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This multi-purpose space designed by Maryline Damour for the 2020 Kingston Design Showhouse features custom woven straw rugs crafted by local workshop Aleman/Moore and Zoom-friendly wallpaper. Photo credit: Ariel Camilo

"A lot of designers go back to the city to visit showrooms, but I personally have not done that," Damour told RugNews.com. "We have a ton of work up here and because of my work in the Kingston Design Showhouse, I have been really focused on sourcing things as locally as possible."

Damour's design adventure in the sleepy hamlet near New York's legendary Woodstock, has led her to discover a range of regional makers and artists, including Aleman/Moore, a Hudson-based weaver of straw carpets and tables, which created two woven rugs for the 2020 Kingston Showhouse, housed in a charming circa 1870s Italianate overlooking a tributary of the Hudson River.

Damour Drake's Maryline Damour and interior designer Mel Jones created a multi-generational work from home space with custom desks for little ones for the 2020 Kingston Design Showhouse.

Damour and Mel Jones, a Damour Drake interior designer, created a work from home (WFH) space with designated area for children learning from home and adults working remotely. "We created a multi-generational work-at-home room designed for adults and children. Recognizing that many people don't have room for a dedicated space for children learning at home," Damour said. Jones designed a custom child's desk/chair set by New York Heartwoods that, when not in use, can pack flat to store in a closet and is easily moved via built-in handles.

For work-at-home adults, Damour specified an eye-catching, whimsical Zoom-friendly mint green wallpaper by New York interior designer Shiela Bridges called Harlem Toile de Jouy, which lampoons some of the stereotypes deeply woven into the African American experience. In addition, Damour collaborated with Aleman/Moore to create two straw rugs, one a wavy design, another a charcoal rug with a mint green border to not only underpin the design elements of the room but also for their noise absorbing properties as well.

Damour Drake's office seating area reveals Maryline Damour's traditional Haitian roots and love for deep colors.

"If I look at my interiors with a critical eye, I am from Haiti, which has a history of very traditional design by the French with its traditional hardwoods and carved tapestries and toiles -- which is also very British as well. So I grew up with that aesthetic but of course in the Caribbean the colors are a lot bolder because the bright sun washes out pastel colors and so I have a fondness for very deep tones and you see that in my a lot of my spaces," Damour told RugNews.com. "I do have a love for English country style interiors as well -- so I lean more towards traditional in my work, but my rooms tend to be a mix of modern pieces and more traditional ones.'

Maryline Damour creates a contemporary country kitchen that incorporates an easy-care, easy-clean cowhide rug.

"Rugs are a key component in a room and we allocate a fair amount of our design budget to them," she said. "With all this added activity happening in your space from a purely practical point of view to have noise dampeners becomes more important than ever," she said. "The rug market has an opportunity there. As a designer we are talking to clients about rugs and curtains as a sound dampener in the home now."

While attending Parsons School of Design in New York City, Maryline Damour injects a splash of color in this city space she designed.
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