Evolution of the Interior Design Career

May 29, 2014 General, Interior Design 0 Comments

Evolution of the Interior Design CareerThe evolution of the interior design career began just over a hundred years ago. During the first quarter of the 20th century, the domain of interior decoration was largely the concern of homemakers, upholsterers and craftsmen employed by architects to advise on the artistic aspects of certain spaces. These were dominated by Victorian style, and characterized by rooms decorated with heavy drapery, Victorian bric-a-brac, overstuffed furniture and dark colors.

Yet a few professional pioneers managed to catapult onto the interior decorating scene, including Elsie de Wolfe and Dorothy Draper. Though they competed in vision, their styles — among others — have inspired a set of values still examined today.

Early Beginnings

Elsie de Wolfe defined the new occupation of interior decoration in 1905 by accepting a design commission for the Colony Club in New York, propelling her to success virtually overnight. Draper established a design firm in 1923 and shortly thereafter created the Dorothy Draper Collection of furnishings. In contrast to de Wolfe, Draper's style was anti-minimalist, favoring the bright, exuberant colors and large prints you might see in many of today's public schools and progressive workplaces. It's what has became known as "Modern Baroque," and it's a style any contemporary interior design course examines closely.

Books and magazines about interior decoration eventually became popular, including The House in Good Taste, which included many of de Wolfe's design ideas, and Draper's Decorating is Fun! How to be Your Own Decorator.

Modern Mid-Century

World War II defined the 1940s, and design trends shifted to emphasize post-war comfort. Iconic furniture came from such designers as Charles and Ray Eames, widely influencing modern interiors. The 1950s defended clean lines and minimalism, but embraced unexpected color selections such as pastel pink and blue.

Decor in the 1960s found a distinct style that featured shag rugs, pop art, and green, yellow and orange hues offset with dark woods and molded plastic furniture. Popular designers included Albert Hadley and Sister Parish, who collaborated in the early 1960s, creating one of the most distinguished firms in American interior design. It's no longer mainstream, but the "loud" designs of Hadley, Parish and others were precursors to the retro decorations you still see in living spaces all over the country.

Late 20th Century Expansion

The 1980s is often characterized as ostentatious, highlighting "bold" design elements. Like the shoulder pads of the decade, window treatments were big, and metallic, chrome and glass elements were preferred. The Foundation for Interior Design Educational Research (FIDER) — now the Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA) — and the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) were established to maintain standards for the education and examination of interior design professionals. Such changes guaranteed that every CIDA-accredited interior design program has undergone a thorough review to ensure that high academic standards for the interior design profession are achieved.

By the close of the 20th century, awareness of good design, "green" design and the growth of similar specializations increased the need for interior designers, creating a profession that has catered both to the creative student and the environmental activist ever since.

Several early design concepts continue to inform our thinking, and the evolution of the interior design career continues to change. There has never been a better time for designers to showcase their talent as they develop to inspire the next generation.

Image source: Flickr


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