As with almost all professions, women in the universe of design have historically struggled to find a place at the table. The American Institute of Architects counted 83,000 members at the end of 2012, yet only 18 percent are women. In contrast, according to Interior Design’s recent Universe Study, of the 87,000 interior designers in the United States, a whopping 69 percent are women. Women are definitely taking the lead in the field of interiors!
In America, Candace Wheeler was one of the first woman interior designers and helped encourage a new style of American design. She was instrumental in the development of art courses for women in a number of major American cities and was considered a national authority on homedesign.
In 1905, Elsie de Wolfe obtained her first commission as an interior decorator, and is identified as being the first interior decorator. In 1913 she goes on to publish the first recognized book on interior design “The House in Good Taste”.
In England, Syrie Maugham became a legendary interior designer credited with designing the first all-white room. Starting her career in the early 1910s, her international reputation soon grew; she later expanded her business to New York and Chicago.
Interior design was previously seen as playing a secondary role to architecture. It also has many connections to other design disciplines, involving the work of architects, industrial designers, engineers, builders, craftsmen, etc. For these reasons the government of interior design standards and qualifications was often incorporated into other professional organisations that involved design. Organisations such as the Chartered Society of Designers, established in the UK in 1986, and the American Designers Institute, founded in 1938, were established as organisations that governed various areas of design.
In ancient India, architects used to work as interior designers. This can be seen from the references of Vishwakarma the architect – one of the gods in Indian mythology. Additionally, the sculptures depicting ancient texts and events are seen in palaces built in 17th century India.
Throughout the 17th and 18th century and into the early 19th century, interior decoration was the concern of the homemaker, or an employed upholsterer or craftsman who would advise on the artistic style for an interior space. Architects would also employ craftsmen or artisans to complete interior design for their buildings.
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