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The Life of a Poet: Carol Poet, Out Designer

 The Life of a Poet: Carol Poet, Out Designer

Carol Poet is one of the most prominent interior designers in Los Angeles, with the most addictive personality.  She is enigmatic, creative and is the most youthful 60-year old I have ever met.  When most would be preparing for retirement, Poet has given birth to a second business, launched a high-end furniture line made of beautiful and exotic woods, and has discovered her new-found self through her sexuality.

Carol Poet is one of the most prominent interior designers in Los Angeles, with the most addictive personality.  She is enigmatic, creative and is the most youthful 60-year old I have ever met.  When most would be preparing for retirement, Poet has given birth to a second business, launched a high-end furniture line, Poet Furniture, made of beautiful and exotic woods, and has discovered her new-found self through her sexuality.

 

SheWired: Where did you grow up?  

Carol Poet: I was born in Seattle and lived in Washington until I was nine. My family then moved to New York, so I really grew up there. I also had my first career as a clothing buyer in NY.

 

Where did your interest in design stem from? Was your family influential in any way?

As an only child and a responsible one, I took care of the house and my parents. I learned to cook, clean and sew as a necessity. I would often move the furniture around and redecorate. My father was artistic, so I know that he was a big influence in many ways including style.

 

How did you make the transition from fashion to interior/furniture design?

I moved to Los Angeles and since I had always been interested in furnishings, I took some classes and landed a job as an apprentice for an interior designer. There is also a natural crossover between those two industries: color, texture, scale, balance, everything stylish.

 

As a designer who has lived on both coasts, how does design differ on each, and how has the east coast influenced you?

I grew up with the influence of traditional design on the east coast. From early French and English furniture to the casual Connecticut style to French Deco furniture that worked so well with my favorite Deco buildings in NYC. Then, living in Los Angeles allows one to have a more casual indoor / outdoor life style.  With the influences of both coasts, I have developed my own style which show in Poet Furniture.

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How would you describe your personal style?

I think the Deco Period has been my own personal favorite, because I grew up loving the Deco buildings of NYC. The style is so much about gorgeous woods in fairly straight lines with beautiful hardware. It mixes so well with other pieces in many different styles.

 

When did you realize you were gay? And did you face any challenges with that?

As sometimes happens in the business of life, my marriage ended. I fell into the arms of a very good girlfriend who was there to console me and help me pick up the pieces. I had never been attracted to women, so I was shocked at how easily the friendship became romantic. There was someone actually looking into my eyes and really listening. It was supportive, kind, gentle and sweet. It changed the course of my life forever.

Are there any LGBT organizations you are a part of?

I have a real interest in the issues of the community. When I first came out, I was elected to be a board member of MECLA, Municipal Elections Committee of Los Angeles. This was one of the first organizations that contributed to politicians that were supportive of civil rights for gays and lesbians. I continue my support and interest in many other organizations and causes.

 

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The latest cause to add to the list is GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network. It is the leading national education organization working to ensure safe schools for students, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. Speaking of issues and fund raising, I currently co-chair the fund raising committee to raise funds to build the West Hollywood Library Park which will be a cultural center in West Hollywood.

 

What projects or side projects are you working on currently?

What does side projects mean? Like being a drug dealer, since business is so lean these days?

I have been building a house on a lake in Georgia at the Reynolds Plantation for clients who live in southern California. We are about to break ground on the building of a home here in Los Angeles that will be a two-year project. And many other small projects. Don’t forget the running of the furniture manufacturing business.

 

Do you have any advice for young up-and-coming designers?

Don’t forget to learn to draw by hand. Even if everything is drawn on Cad these days, and that is what is taught in schools, there will be many times that you are in a client meeting or on a job site when you will have to sketch to get your point across. Try to get a formal education in the field.

But the business end is not taught well enough in schools, therefore, you will only learn that well once you get a job with a well established design firm. Subscribe to all the shelter periodicals, so that you see what is going on in the world.

 

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