Emergence of professional interior designer

In the mid to late 19th century, interior design services expanded greatly, as the middle class in industrial countries grew in size, prosperity and influence, they began to crave for visceral cravings of affluence and grandeur to cement their new status. Large furniture firms began to branch out into general interior design and management, offering full house furnishings in a variety of styles. This business model flourished from the mid-century to 1914, when this role was increasingly usurped by independent, often amateur, designers. This paved the way for the emergence of the professional interior design in the mid-20th century.

To meet the growing demand for contract interior work on projects such as offices, hotels, and public buildings, these businesses became much larger and more complex, employing builders, joiners, plasterers, textile designers, artists, and furniture designers, as well as engineers and technicians to fulfill the job. Firms began to publish and circulate catalogs with prints for different lavish styles to attract the attention of expanding middle classes. These firms were equipped to accomplish every aspect of interior furnishing including decorative paneling and mantels, wall and ceiling decoration, patterned floors, carpets and draperies.

The interior design profession became more established after World War II. From the 1950s onwards spending on the home increased. Interior design courses were established, requiring the publication of textbooks and reference sources. Historical accounts of interior designers and firms distinct from the decorative arts specialists were made available. Organizations to regulate education, qualifications, standards and practices, etc. were established for the profession.

Interior design was previously seen as playing a secondary role to architecture as it had many connections to other design disciplines, involving the work of architects, industrial designers, engineers, builders, craftsmen, etc. For these reasons the government of interior design standards and qualifications was often incorporated into other professional organizations that involved design. It was not until later that specific representation of the interior design profession was developed.

The US National Society of Interior Designers was established in 1957, while in the UK the Interior Decorators and Designers Association was established in 1966. Across Europe, other organizations such as The Finnish Association of Interior Architects (1949) were being established and in 1994 the International Interior Design Association was founded. Having achieved this, interior design became an accepted profession.

Interior decoration as a profession
Modern interior design features

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