The Evolution of Interior Design and Art Deco

The Evolution of Interior Design and Art Deco

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The timeline of interior design and where art deco fits…

Stone Age – 6000 – 2000BC

The first evidence of interior design was found in prehistoric human dwellings. Although they focused on practicalities they still took the time to decorate their dwellings with drawings, usually of plants, animals or humans. Tribes of this era made huts from mud, animal skins and sticks.


Egyptian – 2700 – 30BC

While the civilians of Egypt still lived in mud huts the royal families lived in the magnificent buildings they are well known for. These buildings were decorated with murals which depicted their history and beliefs. They had basic furniture as well as vases and sculptures to use in their homes.


Neolithic Europe – 2000 – 1700BC

Handmade pottery for practical and decorative use, some of which items were decorated with paint.


Greek – 1200 – 31BC

The improvements in civilization allowed for regular people to decorate their homes in their own style, the wealthier of which had furniture containing silver and ivory. The Greeks also brought in rules for the construction of buildings which iconically contained impressive pillars.


Roman – 753BC – 480AD

This was the first real age where no royals could show their wealth through their homes alone. They are decorated with murals and mosaics as well as bespoke furniture. Typical Roman furniture had clawed feet and soft furnishings.


Byzantine – 500 – 1500AD

During the Byzantine era, grand domes and extravagant decorations became the norm.


Dark Ages – 900 – 1100AD

During the dark ages, there was a demise of interior design which meant home interiors went down to basic wood panelling, minimal furniture and stone slab floors.


Gothic – 1140 – 1400AD

Following the dark ages, decorative ornaments and colours were brought into homes again. The Gothic era is noted for its figurative decor and vertical focus as well as bringing the trend of open floor plans and an emphasis on windows to increase light.


Renaissance – 1400 – 1600AD

During the renaissance, beauty was the impact factor to design interiors. Grand paintings and furniture, often with a lot of colours and expensive fabrics such as velvet, were used alongside marble floors to create these beautiful spaces.


From 1508 to 1512AD Michelangelo worked on his famous paintings in the Sistine chapel.

During this time period, carpets were a luxury, even too expensive for the rich to use on the floor. They were used to cover walls. Floors were instead covered with reeds topped in sweet-smelling herbs.


Baroque – 1590 – 1725AD

Flamboyance, grandeur and artistic excess were the focus of this era. The use of stained glass, columns with twists, marble with colour, mirrors, chandeliers and painted ceilings were all used and sought-after.


The first note of architects also working as interior designers was in ancient India around 1600AD.

Rococo Style – 1700AD

A very elegant style utilising flower based design work and the use of different materials such as tortoiseshell and pearls on furniture. They also included Asian porcelain in their home decor.


Traditional – 1700AD – Now

Traditional Europe and American design were very prevalent from 1700 to 1800AD, although it is still popular now amongst certain classes. It was embodied by a very formal feel.


During the 1700’s interior design was brought to the middle classes, not just because of the industrial revolution but also due to the increase in education and trade. While the lower classes still lived in functional dwellings the middle classes took advantage of the lower cost of rugs and wallpapers, as well as showing off pianos, upholstered furniture and books to prove their wealth and culture.

Industrial Revolution – 1760 – 1820AD

During the industrial revolution, interior design was opened to a wider audience and was more accessible to the general population. This is because the luxury items of the past became more affordable and printed media started to become prevalent, featuring fashion and design.


Neoclassical Style – 1780 – 1880AD

Inspiration was from the ancient cultures of Greece and Rome. This could be seen in the architecture of the time but also in the furniture which heavily used metals such as bronze and fabrics such as velvet, satin and silk.


Tropical – 1800s – Now

As the British empire grew into countries such as India and the West Indies they created homes with the influence of both the home country and their own. This style was traditional but with the exoticism of the tropics.


During the 1800s mass production enabled even more people to focus the function of their home around style and design.  Wallpaper was no longer a luxury, just for the elite and middle classes, and flock and velvet wallpapers were introduced. The trend of furniture created to match the wallpaper also began.


Aesthetic Movement – 1800s

The movement was seen as a way for reformers to show their defiance of the current design. The focus was for decoration to have a purpose before it had beauty, the ‘Art for art’s sake’ slogan was used to symbolise this.


Victorian – 1837 – 1901AD

Ornaments were the focal point of a room with all surfaces filled with objects the owner had collected. The colour choices of walls followed a strict code depending on room type and always used colours which were placed beside or exactly opposite on the colour wheel. Crystal Palace was built and set the standard for modern architecture.


Tuscan – 1840s – Now

Influenced by the calm and nature of Tuscany in Italy the focus was very much on simplicity and elegance but with a touch of the luxurious.


Arts & Crafts – 1860 – 1910AD

As a movement to oppose industrialism people turned to traditional crafts to produce items of furniture and decoration.


Rustic – 1870s – Now

Handcrafted furniture and large open rooms were the features of this style. Wooden beams and columns originally allowed rooms to be open and airy and are still sought-after features today.


Art Nouveau – 1890 – 1910AD

Attempted to blend interiors with exterior natural elements and therefore much design took the form of curved lines and was inspired by plant life and flowers.


Asian – 1900s – Now

Known for its minimalist look the Asian style featured the use of natural materials and furniture such as mats, futons and screens. While the Chinese ornaments were deep in design and colour, the Japanese were very basic and focused on function.


Eclectic – 1900s – Now

The eclectic style forced a rise in the interior design trade as it created a need for people with an understanding of different styles and interior design history. The lavish interiors created for the well off increased demand for the style in the middle and lower classes.


Colonial Revival – 1905 – Now

In the USA they took inspiration from the historical styles of the Neoclassical and Georgian eras. Spurred by the Centennial Exhibition which showcased their colonial history the movement gathered pace with the arrival of the automobile which allowed people to visit historical sites with great ease. It was by far the most popular style of the time in the USA, especially through the years of WW1 and WW2.


Modern – 1918 – 1950

Moving away from the typically ornate and somewhat cluttered home the modern style was focused on under-furnished spaces and bold primary colours. Materials such as plastic, steel and laminate were heavily used. Flooring would blend from one room to another, as would the walls which were usually left bare or painted white.


Country – 1920s – 1970s

Inspired by farmhouses the style was very practical but with quality, somewhat vintage, furnishings.


Mediterranean – 1920s – Now

Textures such as plastered walls, terracotta and stone are used to recreate the feel of coastal European countries. Wrought iron, patterned tiles and aqua colours are used to give an extra element of style.


Art Deco – 1920s – 1960s

Art Deco is one of the most well-known interior design styles and stands for modernity as well as elegance and glamour. It is noted for clean lines, bold colour, angular shapes and stylised patterns such as zig-zags. Lavish ornaments were also used to give an extra sense of glamour.


Mid-Century Modern – 1930s

The aim was to bring the outdoors in and therefore big windows and open planned rooms were utilised. The style was relatively simple.


Transitional – 1950s – Now

This style is seen as classic with a modern take. The aim is to be timeless by blending the old with the new. Not as minimal and basic in design as contemporary but with decoration focused on simplicity. Traditional elements are kept in the design and furniture with ornate elements.


Contemporary – 1980s – Now

With neutral colours, furniture in basic materials such as wood and stainless steel and a minimal amount of ornaments the aim is for a clean and uncluttered feel. Bright colours are sometimes used to contrast against the all-around neutral feel.


In the 1990s TV shows focused on home makeovers and redesigns again took the interest in interior design to new heights.

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