The Women Who Professionalized Interior Design  book cover
1st Edition

The Women Who Professionalized Interior Design

ISBN 9780367485290
Published March 11, 2022 by Routledge
174 Pages 41 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

The Women Who Professionalized Interior Design explores the history of interior decorating and design from the late nineteenth century to the present, highlighting the careers and contributions of significant American female interior designers who were instrumental in the creation of the field of residential and commercial interior design in the United States.

This book explores how interior design emerged as a distinct, paying occupation in the nineteenth century thanks to a growing middle class and an increase in available cheap household goods following the Industrial Revolution. Focusing primarily on the period from 1905 to 1960, it addresses the complex relationships among professionals in the design fields, the social dynamics of designer-client relationships, and how class, culture, and family influenced their lives and careers. The book emphasizes significant female interior decorators and writers on design including Candace Wheeler, Elsie de Wolfe, Edith Wharton, Nancy McClelland, Ruby Ross Wood, Dorothy Draper, Eleanor McMillen Brown, and Sister Parish, all of whom are underrepresented in the historical record, relating their stories within the context of the history of design and architecture.

This book is an ideal and concise resource for students and faculty of interior design and women’s history.

Table of Contents




Chapter One:

Architects, Furniture Salesmen, and Upholsterers:

The Origins of Interior Design


Chapter 2:

The Feminization of Interior Decoration


Chapter 3:

Reforming Victorian Chaos


Chapter 4:

The High Society "Lady" decorators


Chapter 5:

Turf, Taste, and Gender: Fraught Relationships among Interior Decorators, Designers, and Architects


Chapter 6:

"Decorators may be Compared to Doctors:" The Professionalization of Interior Design and the Female Interior Designer


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Peter B. Dedek is a professor in the Department of History at Texas State University as well as a historian and an interior designer. Dedek’s doctorate is in history with an emphasis in historic preservation from Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, Tennessee. His master’s and bachelor’s degrees are in interior design and are both from Cornell University, Ithaca, New York.

His research focuses on cultural histories of the historic built environment and landscapes, exploring significant designers and architects, historic architecture and interiors, and popular icons from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Bridging theoretical study and the practical work of public history and historic preservation, Dedek integrates cultural history, design history, and social history in his writing.

Peter B. Dedek teaches history of interior design, furniture, and architecture courses, along with historic preservation and American history, at Texas State University.