Interior design is the art and science of enhancing the interior of a building to achieve a healthier and more aesthetically pleasing environment for the people using the space. An interior designer is someone who plans, researches, coordinates, and manages such projects. Interior design is a multifaceted profession that includes conceptual development, space planning, site inspections, programming, research, communicating with the stakeholders of a project, construction management, and execution of the design.
In ancient India, architects used to work as interior designers. This can be seen from the references of Vishwakarma the architect - one of the gods in Indian mythology. Additionally, the sculptures depicting ancient texts and events are seen in palaces built in 17th-century India. In medieval times wall art paintings in India have been a common feature of palace like mansions commonly known as havelis. While most traditional homes are done away with modern buildings, there are around 2000 havelis in the Shekhawati region of Rajashtan that display wall art paintings.
In the 1950s and 1960s, upholsterers began to expand their business remits. They framed their business more broadly and in artistic terms and began to advertise their furnishings to the public. To meet the growing demand for contract interior work on projects such as offices, hotels, and public buildings, these businesses became much larger and more complex, employing builders, joiners, plasterers, textile designers, artists, and furniture designers, as well as engineers and technicians to fulfil the job. Firms began to publish and circulate catalogs with prints for different lavish styles to attract the attention of expanding middle classes.
A pivotal figure in popularizing theories of interior design to the middle class was the architect Owen Jones, one of the most influential design theorists of the nineteenth century. Jones' first project was his most importantЧin 1851, he was responsible for not only the decoration of Joseph PaxtonТs gigantic Crystal Palace for the Great Exhibition but also the arrangement of the exhibits within. He chose a controversial palette of red, yellow, and blue for the interior ironwork and, despite initial negative publicity in the newspapers, was eventually unveiled by Queen Victoria to much critical acclaim. His most significant publication was The Grammar of Ornament (1856), in which Jones formulated 37 key principles of interior design and decoration.
In America, Candace Wheeler was one of the first woman interior designers and helped encourage a new style of American design. She was instrumental in the development of art courses for women in a number of major American cities and was considered a national authority on homedesign. An important influence on the new profession was The Decoration of Houses, a manual of interior design written by Edith Wharton with architect Ogden Codman in 1897 in America. In the book, the authors denounced Victorian-style interior decoration and interior design, especially those rooms that were decorated with heavy window curtains, Victorian bric-a-brac, and overstuffed furniture. They argued that such rooms emphasized upholstery at the expense of proper space planning and architectural design and were, therefore, uncomfortable and rarely used. The book is considered a seminal work, and its success led to the emergence of professional decorators working in the manner advocated by its authors, most notably Elsie de Wolfe.