Leading by Design

by Darlene Lowe

Darlene Lowe co-founded the Edward Lowe Foundation in 1985 along with her husband, for whom the organization is named. Passionate advocates for entrepreneurship and its role in the U.S. economy, the Lowes launched the foundation because they believed that entrepreneurs weren’t getting the kind of support and resources they needed.

Darlene became chairman and CEO of the foundation in 1995  after Ed’s death. In this role, she assists the board of trustees in governing the foundation and assumes primary responsibility for ensuring the continuity of the organization’s original intent and founding principles.

An entrepreneur herself, Darlene established her own interior design business, Haymarket Interiors, in the late 1960s. In the 1970s, she became vice president of design and facilities planning at Edward Lowe Industries, where she managed the design and renovation of more than 80 diverse projects, including the foundation’s 2,000-acre campus, Big Rock Valley (BRV).

At BRV, Darlene has created a “country classic” signature style that blends antiques and rustic furnishings with eclectic, contemporary elements. She recycles materials in surprising ways, such as placing buttons on furniture or using pickle barrel slats and railroad ties to build decks. The end result: a yesteryear rural charm with a touch of formality.

Darlene Lowe, Co-founder of the Edward Lowe Foundation

BRV Style

To ensure that BRV visitors have a quality experience, Darlene has also established hospitality systems and standards. These range from how facilities should be maintained to how guests should be greeted and meals should be served.

In 2006 the foundation published “BRV Style!,”  a commemorative booklet that  looks at Darlene’s interior design philosophy for BRV, followed by “Leading by Design” in 2012, which looks at her life and leadership style.

A born artist

Darlene’s creative gifts were evident at an early age. She was constantly drawing and won best-picture contests in grade school. In high school she served on decorating committees for proms, painted backdrops for stage productions and was art editor of the yearbook. During her senior year, she won a scholarship from Scholastic Magazine that enabled her to attend Albion College where she studied art.

  Leading by Design
Learn more about Darlene Lowe by downloading the above booklet.

Above: Two charcoal drawings that Darlene drew as a class exercise at Albion College.