Interior Design Magnate Pays It Forward

“I wanted to support VCUarts because it gave me the step I needed for a career I loved,” says C. Larry Horne (B.F.A. ’69), who founded Horne International Designs in 1982. His partner and the firm’s Vice President, Ronald Phillips, also feels a personal connection to Virginia Commonwealth University through his father, Dr. James William Phillips, Jr. (M.D. ’33). Recently, the couple planned their estate to include gifts to VCUarts and VCU Medical Center. Their forward thinking will create a legacy that gives art and medical students more opportunities to achieve their professional goals.

When Horne was an interior design student, his advisor was Theresa Pollak, who, despite a demanding teaching schedule, always took time out to talk with him and inquire about his life. His professors gave him practical hands-on training, which, along with Pollak’s support, landed Horne his first job out of college at The Valentine. He later worked for W.J. Sloane, Inc., a prestigious interior design firm in Washington, D,C., building a loyal clientele.

In 1982, Horne received a call from Sheik Salah Hehailan, a highly successful lawyer from Saudi Arabia who was building a new home in Riyadh for his wife and four children. The installation was an enormous undertaking and was — fortunately — successful, which helped Horne garner an international clientele and work designing palaces, high end homes and hotels. Phillips, who ran the business from the Washington, D.C., office, explains, “Larry was in the right place at the right time with the right skills.” As the business thrived, Horne and Phillips hired numerous designers from VCUarts to work at the company.

Horne’s final project was both sentimental and a tribute to his enduring talent. In 2009, former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice asked him to design the interior of her private home in Palo Alto, Calif., when she returned to Stanford University as a political science professor. This last assignment was the ultimate compliment and the culmination of a highly successful forty-year career.

“My dream is to help interior design students that need assistance.” – C. Larry Horne

Phillips is contemplating the creation of a scholarship set up in his father’s name for VCU Medical Center. They retired in 2012 and currently own and operate the Thomas Walton Manor Bed & Breakfast Inn in Laurinburg, North Carolina.


July 20, 2016