When Michael Drolet submitted his vibrant vision for a Paris apartment for the Virtual Design Challenge, “we were all immediately impressed and drawn to his colorful and technically accurate proposal,” said Cass Key, creative director at Woodbridge Furniture, one of the contest sponsors along with Taylor King and KingsHaven. “He set the stage beautifully and let the story unfold like a professional, and the true plot twist came when we realized that he was a student, looking to start his career in the fall.”
Judges and interior designers Tobi Fairley and Lauren Liess agreed and named Drolet as one of five finalists. After an online public vote hosted by Flower magazine, he emerged as the winner.
“He pushed the boundaries by using a Taylor King fabric as a wall covering and imagining the outdoor space, which is exactly the type of inventive creativity that should be rewarded today and always,” said Key.
Get to know the designer better with Flower‘s Q&A, and discover the key pieces that will help you get the look.
Q&A with Michael Drolet
Drolet Designs | Greensboro, North Carolina
Tell us a little about your background.
Michael Drolet: I grew up in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. After graduating with a BFA in Musical Theater from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, I moved to New York City to pursue acting and have had a successful career both on Broadway and touring around North America. After 11 years of performing in Wicked, I decided to pursue a career in interior design, and so moved to North Carolina to study interior design at Randolph Community College. When I began that journey a little over two years ago, I was obsessed with French Country/Traditional Farmhouse. Since that time, my design aesthetic has evolved from solely traditional to one that references both old and new in a transitional style that is bold and unapologetic, just like my loud belting voice.
What inspired you to enter the Taylor King, Woodbridge, KingsHaven Virtual Design Challenge?
As a student, I wanted to challenge myself to something outside of our curriculum. Because I’ve worked at the High Point Furniture Market the past few years, I was on a mailing list for the contest. When I heard the prompt was that of a dream Parisian apartment, I jumped at the opportunity. At this time of unrest in our world, it was so healing to pour my heart into this design, as it reminded me of traveling and connecting with people. It was truly a godsend for my soul.
The inspiration for your design came from…
A recent vacation I took in Paris. I remember the intoxicating smell of flowers, which mirrored the romance of the city. When I found the floral textile Secret Garden Passion by Taylor King I felt that essence of springtime in Paris. I then began to find other patterns from the Taylor King line and to write the story of a space that is open, filled with light, and begs to set the stage for a romantic evening. So I did what any artist does and drew from my experiences. And thus, I created a scene:
Lights up. We’re in the living room of a top floor apartment in Paris. Ella Fitzgerald, a legendary jazz vocalist, is standing by a boldly patterned piano singing, while Cole Porter, a renowned composer and songwriter, accompanies her to one of his newly penned songs, “I Love Paris.” The room is filled with light illuminating a loud mix of patterns and saturated colors on exquisitely tailored and timeless furniture pieces. The intricacy of her voice as she moves from note to note seems to mimic all of the many colors and textures that surround her.
The room evolved from that single inspiration, and I ended up creating a space that is maximalism, but with clear focal points and connecting colors. Combining so many textures and patterns gives the space an energy of vibrancy—a place that evokes conversation, but most importantly begs of you to stay, linger, and who knows? Upon arrival maybe you’ll be singing the song “I love Paris” and never wish to leave.
Get the Look
“While all designers’ submissions were highly innovative and showed much effort, the finalists’ and Michael Drolet’s winning design demonstrated exceptionally creative presentations, use of products, and well-designed floor plans.” — Lauren Wylonis, founder, CEO, and lead designer of KingsHaven
What time of day or night is this room the most beautiful and why?
I imagine being in this space and watching beautiful sunsets where the wall of windows allows you to take in every moment as day modulates easily into evening. The warm rays of the setting sun in the west transitions beautifully into the warmth created by dramatic KingsHaven lighting. It is then that you look up and see stars twinkling above your head with views that would make anyone fall in love with Paris.
More Paris-Inspired Design Ideas
Explore design plans and curated product galleries from the Virtual Design Challenge finalists:
- Angie Gardeck of New Perspective Design
- Mary E. Sica & Lea Taliercio of Dwayne Bergmann Interiors
- Erika Pereira of Ikigai Goa
- Lindsay Wells Suntag of Lindsay Wells Interiors
“The enthusiastic response and participation from the design community across our country and around the world is inspiring,” said Del Starnes, president of Taylor King, of the contest. “It’s especially comforting to see this collaborative spirit prevail in these challenging times. Congratulations to the finalists and thank you to everyone who participated.”