In the industrialized West, the design of the interior has been conceptualized as a domestic and amateur phenomenon, and the domestic interior has been conceptualized as a feminine realm. This introductory article aims to overcome the tendency to conflate the interior, the domestic, the amateur and the feminine in three ways. Firstly, it engages with a broad definition of the interior, encompassing professional and amateur spaces in both domestic and extra-domestic contexts. Secondly, it examines processes of professionalization which, from 1870 to 1970, moved the practice and product of interior design beyond its amateur origins. Thirdly, the association of femininity and domesticity so fundamental to Western patriarchal society is here replaced with a concern for the professional practice of women, and men, as gendered subjects. These points are addressed in turn in the three parts of the article. This article argues for analysis of the historical processes by which professional status in conferred upon the act of designing. Professionalization is an extremely useful and revealing focus for understanding the genesis, characteristics and significance of interior design and design and its histories more broadly.
- design history
- interior design