Published at Monday, 12 August 2019. Decoration. By Marie Williams.
A pivotal figure in popularizing theories of interior design to the middle class was the architect Owen Jones, one of the most influential design theorists of the nineteenth century. Jones first project was his most important—in 1851, he was responsible for not only the decoration of Joseph Paxton’s gigantic Crystal Palace for the Great Exhibition but also the arrangement of the exhibits within. He chose a controversial palette of red, yellow, and blue for the interior ironwork and, despite initial negative publicity in the newspapers, was eventually unveiled by Queen Victoria to much critical acclaim. His most significant publication was The Grammar of Ornament (1856), in which Jones formulated 37 key principles of interior design and decoration.
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.
n 1882, the London Directory of the Post Office listed 80 interior decorators. Some of the most distinguished companies of the period were Crace, Waring & Gillowm and Holland & Sons; famous decorators employed by these firms included Thomas Edward Collcutt, Edward William Godwin, Charles Barry, Gottfried Semper, and George Edmund Street.
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