Published at Monday, 12 August 2019. Decoration. By Marie Williams.
The move toward decoration as a separate artistic profession unrelated to the manufacturers and retailers received an impetus with the 1899 formation of the Institute of British Decorators; with John Dibblee Crace as its president, it represented almost 200 decorators around the country. By 1915, the London Directory listed 127 individuals trading as interior decorators, of which 10 were women. Rhoda and Agnes Garrett were the first women to train professionally as home decorators in 1874. The importance of their work on design was regarded at the time as on a par with that of William Morris. In 1876, their work - Suggestions for House Decoration in Painting, Woodwork and Furniture - spread their ideas on artistic interior design to a wide middle-class audience.
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. In medieval times wall art paintings in India have been a common feature of palace like mansions commonly known as havelis. While most traditional homes are done away with modern buildings, there are around 2000 havelis in the Shekhawati region of Rajashtan that display wall art paintings.
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. An important influence on the new profession was The Decoration of Houses, a manual of interior design written by Edith Wharton with architect Ogden Codman in 1897 in America. In the book, the authors denounced Victorian-style interior decoration and interior design, especially those rooms that were decorated with heavy window curtains, Victorian bric-a-brac, and overstuffed furniture. They argued that such rooms emphasized upholstery at the expense of proper space planning and architectural design and were, therefore, uncomfortable and rarely used. The book is considered a seminal work, and its success led to the emergence of professional decorators working in the manner advocated by its authors, most notably Elsie de Wolfe.
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