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.
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.
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 City and Chicago. Born during the Victorian Era, a time characterized by dark colors and small spaces, she instead designed rooms filled with light and furnished in multiple shades of white and mirrored screens. In addition to mirrored screens, her trademark pieces included: books covered in white vellum, cutlery with white porcelain handles, console tables with plaster palm-frond, shell, or dolphin bases, upholstered and fringed sleigh beds, fur carpets, dining chairs covered in white leather, and lamps of graduated glass balls, and wreaths.
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