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History of Interior Design Expository Essay

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Updated: May 19th, 2020

Interior design is a multidimensional profession that entails the application of creative and technical skills in an interior space to create an effective environment that can accommodate a range of human activities (National Council for Interior Design Qualification, 2004).

These undertakings are not only meant to be of visual value, but are also meant to transform the space such that it can create some feeling and also reflect the culture of the occupants. An interior designer is one who carries out such activities. Interior design can include activities such as flooring, windows, doors, walls, lighting, furniture, and many other design aspects (Lees-Maffei, 2008).

Ultimately, the aim of an interior designer is largely to make an interior space that is both comfortable and has aesthetic aspects to the occupiers, whether they are residents or occasional visitors.

The process of interior design follows “a systematic and coordinated methodology, including research, analysis, and integration of knowledge into the creative process, whereby the needs and resources of the client are satisfied to produce an interior space that fulfills the project goals” (National Council for Interior Design Qualification, 2004).

History of Interior Design

Historians do not have a definite answer regarding the origin of this profession, however, ancient Egyptians are often recognized as its founders (Interior Design School, 2012). The Romans and Greeks inherited the art of interior design from the Egyptians as seen through their development of public buildings with dome-shaped roofs.

From this era of magnificence and ornamentation, there was a wild rush to austerity buoyed by frequent wars in Mediaeval Europe and the rise of the Christian church (Lees-Maffei, 2008). In the early 1200s, the now famous Gothic technique was widely used and became known for its use of open rooms and windows to capture adequate light from the sun to light up the rooms.

Between 1600 and 1800, the French Renaissance created a renewed attention to art and beauty in interior design and by the early 19th century, a movement had also begun in major European nations, this movement focused on more ingenuity and diversity in interior design (Interior Art Design, 2012).

By the 20th century, the increasing presence of home equipment resulted in a new challenge for interior designers as they now had to “plan spaces not only for aesthetic purposes, but also for functionality” (Lees-Maffei, 2008).

Interior Decorating

Interior decorating, on the other hand, involves applying decorations and furnishings in interior spaces such as offices, homes, or public spaces.

It involves all facets of lighting, color, paint, furniture arrangement, and flooring choice and fixation, among other fittings and decorations (National Council for Interior Design Qualification, 2012). Generally, an interior decorator’s main aim is to enhance the aesthetics of any interior space.

Difference between interior design and interior decorating

Even though many people think these two terms have similar meaning, they are quite different on some grounds. First, interior decorators mainly concentrate on the look or appearance of a building or space.

They can do this by changing the wall decors, the floors, and adding attractive elements to improve the aesthetics of an interior space. However, they cannot remove or change any standing structure (immovable structures), such as a wall.

In contrast, Interior designers have a working knowledge of architecture and can change standing structures as long as they do not affect the foundations and stability of a building (Design Training 2012; Piotrowski 2004). Consequently, an interior designer can alter the architecture of a building while an interior decorator cannot.

An interior designer’s work can sometimes be complex, ranging from designing decorating small rooms or spaces, to designing large company buildings, to creating a cohesive aesthetism in a space that will house several separate entities under the same roof, for instance, the design of a large departmental store.

An efficient interior designer will use a vast array of different skills and capabilities in meeting their work objectives, combining bits of these skills and competencies to come up with a holistic environment that can appeal to the majority of his clients.

For this reason, they must be well rounded in the disciplines that are important to their work, including scientific thinking, estimating costs, feasibility, architecture, psychology, and product design and must also possess the various skills needed to do their job.

On the other hand, the scope of work of an interior decorator is not as wide that of that of an interior designer. Hence, an interior decorator needs not to have an understanding of many disciplines as is required of an interior designer.


Interior Design School. (2012). A Brief History of Interior Design. Web.

Lees-Maffei, G. (2008). Introduction: Professionalization as a focus in Interior Design History. Journal of Design History, 21(1), 1-18.

. (2004). NCIDQ Definition of Interior Design. Web.

National Council for Interior Design Qualification. (2012). Differences between Interior Design & Decorating. Web.

Piotrowski, C. (2004). Becoming an Interior Designer. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons.

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