First women decorators in design history

Even if you are not an interior designer, it is interesting to know who were the first women decorators who fought for a place in this sector, don’t you think?

These women were transgressors and knew how to highlight their tastes and their way of understanding design, both in houses and residential spaces as well as in hotels and restaurants.

Throughout history, there have been many women who have stood out, but in today’s article I will focus on the 6 most representative women decorators, in chronological order.

Candace Wheeler

Born in 1827 in Delhi, New York. She is considered the creator of interior design and the first to develop this sector among women, promoting the work of other artists.

He founded a new style of design in the United States. In fact, in 1877 she created the Decorative Art Society and the Women’s Chamber of Labor in New York City in 1878.

It was part of the Arts & Crafts movement and neo-colonial architecture, and created multiple designs that served as models for fabrics used to decorate middle-class homes.

May Morris

Born in 1862 in Great Britain and, like Candace, belonging to the Arts & Crafts movement. By profession, she was dedicated to embroidery and wallpaper design.

As for many women of her time, her work was always hidden under a male figure (just look at her pose), in this case her father William Morris, who, as if that wasn’t enough to overshadow her, was a specialist in textile design.

She sewed freehand and “drew” shadows on her embroidery with silk thread. He also designed and manufactured jewelry.

Elsie de Wolfie

Born in 1865 in the United States (New York). Her career began as an actress. However, she must not have done very well there and in 1904 she left to become one of the few women decorators of the time.

She is considered one of the pioneers of interior design. The Victorian houses he decorated at that time were characterized by the use of light colors and for being luminous (in contrast to the darkness of this type of narrow and elongated houses).

Some of his clients were Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw and J. M Barrie. Not bad, right?

Julia Morgan

Born in 1872 in San Francisco. Despite her gender, she was accepted at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, although this was not plain sailing.

In 1902 she finished her studies and in 1904 she graduated as an architect in California. During his career, in addition to founding his own studio, he designed around 750 buildings, mostly for women’s associations.

She was careful, perfectionist and flexible, adapting projects to the needs of her clients, but also to their pockets. She was awarded in 2014 with the gold medal of the American Institute of Architects, being the first woman to receive it (2014, eh).

Dorothy Draper

Born in 1889 in the United States. From a well-to-do family, she was able to get an education, something that the vast majority of women of her time could not do. Every year he made trips to Europe with his family, from which he acquired a special taste for decoration.

In 1912, she took advantage of her marriage to become the decorator and construction manager of her own house. Since her husband didn’t complain, during the 18 years they were married they moved several times (I think he got a taste for designing and said This is mine).

At the age of 36, she started the first interior design firm in the United States called Dorothy Draper & Company. She invented what is considered the “modern baroque”, breaking with what had been done (just look at the photo), and was one of the most influential women decorators of her time.

He not only dedicated himself to housing, but also to public spaces, always seeking to make them beautiful and impressive. For this he used intense and presumptuous colors, with printed fabrics and the more the better.

Andrée Putman

He was born in Paris in 1923, although it was not until the age of 50 that he started working as an interior designer at Ecart. At the time, he was in charge of editing what had been designed by people like decorator Jean Michel Frank or interior designer Eileen Gray.

Minimalist to the core, elegant and simple. He created designs with diverse functionalities and without partitions.

In 1997 he founded his own studio in the Parisian city, which is still run by his daughter and follows the same eclectic design criteria.

Which one has had the greatest impact on you?

You can leave me a comment at the end of the post 🙂