The vision of a few individuals has changed the way the world views interior design. Whether you’re a licensed interior designer or an avid home decorator, there is a lot to learn from the trailblazers of the interior design profession. From artists of the 15th century to modern visionaries, here are the five most famous interior designers of all time.
The 5 Most Famous Interior Designers of All Time
Although Michelangelo was best known for his artistic masterpieces, one can also classify him as the first interior designer. Born in 1475, Michelangelo still shapes the world of interior design today. He began his career as a humble apprentice to the great mural artist Domenico Ghirlandaio.
Over the years, several prominent figures took an interest in Michelangelo’s work, such as Lorenzo de Medici and the French Cardinal Jean Bilhères de Lagraulas. Michelangelo created several historical works of art for these clients, including the Pieta, the statue of David, and the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
These commissions led to his career in the nonexistent field of interior design. Michelangelo designed the interior of the Medici Chapel in Florence. Although Michelangelo drew his inspiration from the Roman Pantheon, he managed to create a space that was full of light, had the illusion of great height, and held a timeless design.
Years later, Michelangelo designed his greatest creation, the dome at St. Peter’s Basilica. Although his work was completed after he died, the St. Peter’s Basilica marks him as one of the most famous interior designers of his age.
2. Elsie De Wolfe
Elsie De Wolfe literally wrote the book on interior design. Although she began as an actress, she devoted her later years to professional interior design. Often considered the first interior designer, Elsie handed business cards to the elites in her social circles. In 1907, she completed her most well-known project, the Colony Club. Since then, she went on to complete several other monumental projects, such as Henry Frick’s mansion and actor Gary Cooper’s home.
In 1913, Elsie De Wolfe published A House in Good Taste. Her book listed elements that were controversial and ahead of her time, such as open spaces, generous amounts of natural light, and simplistic design. Her legacy lives on in the modern age, where designers continue to put her ideals into practice.
3. Dorothy Draper
Dorothy Draper took everything from classical design and made what it wasn’t: fun, unique, and unforgettable. She is usually heralded as the creator of the first interior design firm, the Architectural Clearing House. Since then, she decorated visually stunning masterpieces, such as the Greenbrier in West Virginia and the Manhattan Carlyle Resort. Both buildings still retain elements of her design.
Her style included the use of bright colors, almost to a fantastical degree. She regularly mixed patterns, such as florals, stripes, and checkered floors. Dorothy paid special attention to detail, often painting molding with unique colors, installing extravagant light fixtures, and furnishing her spaces with colorful baroque pieces.
4. Frank Lloyd Wright
Before Interior Design became a common profession, many architects took on the role as an interior designer. For this reason, it would be remiss not to include Frank Lloyd Wright as one of the most famous interior designers. Frank Lloyd Wright heavily influenced the American Arts and Crafts style, creating unforgettable structures, such as Falling Water, the Taliesin, the Guggenheim Museum in New York, and the Wright Imperial Hotel.
As monumental as his architectural projects were, his unique brand of interior design continues to influence today. He employed open floorplans, high ceilings, and natural light to his designs. He focused on using wood and simple yet sturdy items to create his furnishings.
This interior designer’s attention to detail included built-in lighting fixtures, natural elements such as wood and masonry, and architectural details such as moldings and geometric designs. His use of “organic” design achieved a timeless effect. He believed that design should live on from generation to generation and change accordingly.
5. Geoffrey N. Bradfield
Interior design is now a full-blown profession. Moreover, many talented individuals pursue it. It’s difficult to define the most famous interior designers of the modern age when the design is fluid, and there are so many rising stars. However, one living legend is Geoffrey N. Bradfield.
Born on the wild coast of South Africa in 1948, Geoffrey has already made a mark in the design world. Hailed as the “Dean of American Design,” Geoffrey lead several monumental projects, including renovating Gertrude Vanderbilt’s Westbury estate, King Hussein’s mansion, and an opulent penthouse in Jerusalem. In addition, he continues to design for royal clients across the globe.
Although Geoffrey’s style is very diverse, his designs include three main elements: opulence, the reflection of natural light, and classical beauty. His designs also vary based on the client’s desires and the geographic location. The geographic location dictates the accessories he uses and the choices for pops of color. Geoffrey’s constant adaption to design and timeless creations can easily place him among the most famous interior designers of the modern age.
From the historic designs of Michelangelo to diverse works of modern designers like Geoffrey Bradfield, these famous interior designers continue to inspire today. Whether you’re an aspiring interior designer or simply enjoy decorating your own home, there’s a very important lesson to learn from each of these legends. They began from humble beginnings and created monumental designs that reflected their own style.
It is true that you can learn from their individual design styles. Still, at the end of the end day, your unique vision has the potential to leave a lasting mark on the design community as well.