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  • Writer's pictureSara Fattori

A Classic Journey In Design: Part 3A - Interior Design & Decoration


Interior design has come a long way over the years, thanks to the pioneering work of individuals like Elsie de Wolf and Dorothy Draper. These trailblazers not only shaped the profession but also paved the way for the study of interior architecture. Today, becoming a licensed interior designer requires a combination of education, apprenticeship, and examination to ensure the health, safety, and satisfaction of clients.

Who were Elsie de Wolf and Dorothy Draper?

Elsie de Wolf, often referred to as the first American decorator, revolutionized the field of interior design in the early 20th century. She introduced a fresh and innovative approach to decorating, moving away from the heavy Victorian style that was prevalent at the time. De Wolf's designs focused on lightness, simplicity, and functionality, setting the stage for modern interior design.

Elsie de Wolf

Dorothy Draper, on the other hand, is considered the pioneer of the interior design profession. She made a significant impact on the industry with her bold and vibrant designs. Draper's most iconic work can be seen in the Beverly Hills Hotel, where she used her famous banana palm wallpaper. Her innovative use of color and pattern transformed the hotel into a luxurious and memorable space.

Dorothy Draper

What is required to become a licensed interior designer?

In order to practice hospitality and contract interior design, aspiring designers must obtain a license. This ensures that they have the necessary knowledge and skills to create spaces that are safe and functional for occupants. The requirements to become a licensed interior designer include:

  1. Obtaining a Bachelor's Degree in Interior Design or a related field. This formal education provides a solid foundation in design principles, space planning, materials, and building codes.

  2. Completing a two-year apprenticeship with an architect or a licensed interior designer. This hands-on experience allows aspiring designers to apply their knowledge in real-world projects and gain valuable practical skills.

  3. Passing a four-day examination that tests their understanding of design principles, building codes, and safety regulations. This examination ensures that licensed interior designers have a comprehensive understanding of the profession and are capable of creating spaces that meet industry standards.

By requiring these qualifications, the profession of interior design prioritizes the well-being of occupants and the protection of clients. Licensed interior designers have the expertise to create spaces that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also functional, safe, and compliant with regulations.

Below is a Mexican Restaurant project by Cronk Duch Architects and concept boards by Sara Fattori Interior Design.

Mexican Restaurant project by Cronk Duch Architects

Mexican Restaurant project by Cronk Duch Architects and concept boards by Sara Fattori Interior Design.

Thanks to the contributions of Elsie de Wolf, Dorothy Draper, and many other influential designers, the field of interior design has evolved into a respected profession. Today, licensed interior designers continue to shape the way we experience and interact with our built environment, ensuring that our spaces are not only visually appealing but also conducive to our well-being.

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