While each and every one of us has their own individual taste or ideas on what constitutes beautiful or elegant, it’s sometimes useful to get a bit of a helping hand. The idea of Interior Design is not necessarily a new one, but it hasn’t always had a name to identify the discipline. The core disciplines of engineering and architecture dictated building form and often the spaces within would follow or reflect the structure. The amalgamation of finishes, objects and spaces often accumulated organically without a specific scheme in mind. It would be hard, for instance, to claim that medieval palaces were “interior designed” as functionality more often than not suggested the materials used to make walls, the placement of furniture and the location of fireplaces. Our ancestors were not always collectors either so art, objects and frivolous excess of accumulated items was not a priority.
By the eighteenth century, furnishing in the latest taste was a top down process, palaces and country houses being the benchmark for taste and fashion. But again, there was an intrinsic connection between an architect and designer – and the line between professions was blurred – in the UK for instance, William Kent and William Chambers are good examples of this, both architects as well as room planners and furniture designers. By the mid nineteenth century both the US & the UK had a recognizable profession of “Decorators” who would both fit out and design an interior – although again this was the preserve of the wealthy and more often than not, urban cognoscenti. Furniture makers would often have a second string to their bow as room and house furnishers, and it was really this “additional service” that translates into the Interior Design service we see today. As technology improved and furniture design & manufacture became more democratized it meant it was available to the middle classes, especially in the Department Stores. From there onwards it was only a matter of time until it became a profession in its own right, and individuals offered their own ideas on fashion and taste to the aspirational. The early 20th century through to the mid-20th century was a period in which the profession flourished and grew, but it wasn’t until the 1950s & 1960s that the industry created its own regulatory bodies and Institutes.
A good Interior Designer will not only understand the flow of space and form within an Interior but they will also have a sound grasp of historical styles, materials and also perhaps most importantly, a closely guarded “black book” of suppliers and tradesmen. The value of an educated or inspirationally unique personal style can be of huge importance in getting the best out of a modern or historic property. Roberto Cavalli Home Interiors is proud to work with some of the very best and most Iconic designers in London, and where it is not always plain to see the possibilities, they are often several steps ahead in terms of knowledge, understanding and vision.