Elsie de Wolfe : The Birth of Modern Interior Decoration (review)

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Extending across more than three decades, Professor Penny Sparke's oeuvre has defined as well as reflected the changing preoccupations of Design History. Her work extends from the introductory texts so useful for identifying areas for further research, teaching and recruiting a general readership, such as An Introduction to Design and Culture 1900 to the Present (1986, 2004), A Century of Design: Design Pioneers of the 20th Century (1998), Design in Context (1987) and The Design Source Book (1986, 1992), to materials and typological studies, The Plastics Age (1990, 1993) and A Century of Car Design (2002), national surveys Japanese Design (1987) and Italian Design: 1870 to the Present (1988), and designer-led analyses, Ettore Sottsass Jnr (1982) and Consultant Design: The History and Practice of the Designer in Industry (1983). In the last decade, Sparke has made a particular contribution to the literature of gender and design with As Long As Its Pink: The Sexual Politics of Taste (1995) and as an editor and contributor to Women's Places: Architecture and Design 1860–1960 (2003)—for which Sparke contributed the essay ‘Elsie de Wolfe and her Female Clients, 1905–1915: Gender, Class and the Professional Interior Decorator’. In addition to Sparke's contribution to Interior Design and Identity (2004), ‘The Domestic Interior and the Construction of Self: The New York Homes of Elsie de Wolfe’, Journal readers will remember her article ‘The “Ideal” and the “Real” Interior in Elsie de Wolfe's The House in Good Taste of 1913’ (vol. 16, 2003).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-176
JournalJournal of Design History
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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