Published at Monday, 12 August 2019. Decoration. By Marie Williams.
Elsie De Wolfe was one of the first interior designers. Rejecting the Victorian style she grew up with, she chose a more vibrant scheme, along with more comfortable furniture in the home. Her designs were light, with fresh colors and delicate Chinoiserie furnishings, as opposed to the Victorian preference of heavy, red drapes and upholstery, dark wood and intensely patterned wallpapers. Her designs were also more practical; she eliminated the clutter that occupied the Victorian home, enabling people to entertain more guests comfortably. In 1905, de Wolfe was commissioned for the interior design of the Colony Club on Madison Avenue; its interiors garnered her recognition almost over night. She compiled her ideas into her widely read 1913 book, The House in Good Taste.
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.
By the turn of the 20th century, amateur advisors and publications were increasingly challenging the monopoly that the large retail companies had on interior design. English feminist author Mary Haweis wrote a series of widely read essays in the 1880s in which she derided the eagerness with which aspiring middle-class people furnished their houses according to the rigid models offered to them by the retailers. She advocated the individual adoption of a particular style, tailor made to the individual needs and preferences of the customer "One of my strongest convictions, and one of the first canons of good taste, is that our houses, like the fish’s shell and the bird’s nest, ought to represent our individual taste and habits.
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