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History of Interior Design and Decoration

The concept of Interior designing started evolving from the early stages of human evolution when men found themselves safer to live inside the caves. The prehistoric era reveals how they early men used to decorate the interior of their homes with wall paintings representing their daily lives.

History of Interior Design and Decoration

The concept has evolved a lot with the advent of technology and innovations. The designing of the interior, as well as the exterior of a building, room or any premise,  is considered as interior designing. A team of interior designers or a solo designer is responsible for coordinating with the related engineers to come up with a conceptual plan. The entire thing is executed with colossal cooperation and keeping the stakeholders and management of the process within the communication channel. The method includes shaping and reshaping the interior space with experience. In fact, the internal space also manipulates by deploying surface treatment processes.

Latest history

A few decades back, coming up with a suitable interior was the part of the construction. The profession slowly surfaced due to industrialization and societal development. In fact, due to the evolvement of sophisticated architecture, a new need of original interiors emerged for proper space utilization. Due to the requirement of appropriate space utilization, the interior designers came into the picture. Eventually, the concept got better and more prominent. The profession is now a highly-acclaimed and recognized one in the society.

The role of a designer is different from that of an interior decorator. The latter term is used explicitly by the Americans whereas the British do not recognize it as a distinct profession. The Indian scenario is quite a unique one where the architects take the responsibility of interior designing. For instance, Vishwakarma, the God of construction and designing in the Indian Mythology is a good example that fits here.

The palaces that built in the 17th century depict many ancient texts. Even the small-scale models of houses kept in front of the tombs for food offerings in the ancient Egypt. The changes in the development of the interiors of different Egyptian eras depict the own evolvement of interior design. Up until the beginning of 17th century, the concept of internal design touched the commoners. They asked the craftsmen and upholsterers to come up with a proper model for an artistic interior space.

Commercial designing

After the introduction of the concept among the commoners, it took a turn and entered the industrial section. The interior design concept was adopted by the commercial premises to come up with an attractive internal ambiance with proper space utilization features. It started in the mid-19th century, and the industrial economies began deploying the features.

The middle-class Americans and Europeans also grew considerably in prosperity and sought a well-designed interior to showcase their status. Eventually, the large furniture producing houses started to reach out these middle-class families as personalized contractors for the entire remodeling of the interior with wooden masterpieces. The evolving business model got very famous and widely accepted. Before the First World War, these new ventures got promoted in the form of interior designers who were appointed by the families to reinvent the internal space.

During the mid 19th century, the upholsterers had already expanded their businesses. During this time, they added a new artistic term to their services as a furnishing expert. Eventually, the demand began to rise, and the assistance sought by commoners and almost all types of industries. The growing demand can only quench by adding the other experts such as builders, plasterers, joiners, textile designers, furniture specialist, artists, etc. The revolution was joined by technicians and engineers too. Lavish decorative styles emerged that attracted almost every middle-class family in America and Europe.

Retail advertising

The increase in the demand also gave birth to the formation of retail displays where the customers would find the perfect examples of new designs. One of the best and most effective ways to advertise and showcase the latest designs was to develop model rooms. The retail spaces were also designed in the best way possible to mesmerize the incoming customers. For a vivid tour, the model rooms were already there. The most promising names that everyone preferred during that time are James Shoolbred, Waring and Gillow, and Mintons and Holland.

The preferences changed and evolved considerably among the middle-class families. The furniture stores then started taking contracts and fully furnished the interior of the houses with the aid of other professionals in the business. Herter Brothers, an initiative of two brothers belonging to Germany covered all the aspects of interior furnishing. They included patterned floors, draperies, carpets, ceiling decorations, wall decorations, mantels, etc.

Birth of theory

Owen Jones can consider as the father of interior design. He was responsible for the interior designing of Crystal Palace in 1851 and was the first one to depict 37 mandatory principles to follow on this subject. He worked for many prominent figures in the contemporary era and critically acclaimed buy Queen Victoria herself.

Evolving as a distinct profession

With the expression of derision by English author, Mary Haweis on how the middle class is bound to use the rigid models offered by the retail brands, the necessity of interior designers came into the picture. She was the one to advocate a tailor-made individual style that will respect the customers’ preference.

It was then the Institute of British Decorators formed in the year 1899. John Dibblee Crace was the first president of an organization of 200 decorators. The institute started recognizing and training enthusiasts.

Anti-Victorian approach

Candace Wheeler was the one to denounce the large interior features used in British practices. She pioneered light interior designs that later adopted in the American livelihood.

Post-war scenario

After the Second World War, people started spending more on their houses. The interior design courses taught in various universities and institutions. The profession took a massive turn and got highly-recognized by the civilization. People started to realize the difference between designing and decoration. New elements are being added now and then such as acoustics, lighting, etc. to impart more aesthetic value to the design and make life better.


Joan Young is an aspiring journalist and copywriter of writing company with deep interest in history, architecture, inventions and technological progress. In a spare from travelling minute, she provides online tutoring sessions to college students and finds immense pleasure in witnessing their writing progress. Some of her insights can be found in her author’s column on blog.

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