The profession of interior design is just over 100 years old. In these hundred years, what began as the art of decorating, embracing form and function, has evolved by leaps and bounds into today’s world of highly specialized areas of interior design that require years of study and experience.
In the early 1900’s, the term “Interior Decorator” was first used in America. Most decorators at the time had no academic credentials, but the best of them had a combination of good taste, common senses, and natural talent to interpret and address the issues, such as scale and proportion. Elsie de Wolfe became the first Interior Decorator to be given a design “commission.” In 1913, Elsie de Wolfe published the first interior design book, “The House in Good Taste.” Dorothy Draper was the first documented commercial Interior Decorator, establishing her design firm in 1923.
The term “Interior Designer” was coined in the 1930’s, by a magazine called “Interior Design and Decoration.” That magazine was not printed between 1943 and 1952, but a competing magazine, “Interiors,” insisted on using only the term “interior designer,” not “decorator.” At this time design schools also recognized the work not only of designers but also of architects and engineers. “Interiors” published more contract work than residential work. When “Interior Design and Decoration” magazine resumed publication, it dropped the term “and Decoration” from its name.
The largest professional organization in the field at the time, AID, was founded in 1931 when a group meeting convened at a furniture show determined to create a national professional organization. AID changed its name from the American Institute of Decorators to the American Institute of Interior Designers (AID) in 1936. Over the years, as the profession of interior design grew, so did the number of organizations and associations to represent the varied professional members.
In the 1970’s both The Foundation for Interior Design Educational Research (FIDER) and National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) were formed to establish, maintain and govern standards for the education and examination of interior design professionals.