19 Aug 2020

A while back, I wrote an essay on the history of how we depict interior design. Kind of a niche subject, but we don’t get to choose our interests. I ended up shelving it for the typical reasons, but I’ve lately decided to revisit it. The first draft is around 4,000 words, so I’ll need to do some trimming. But I’m optimistic.

Here’s an excerpt:

For as long as we’ve had interiors, we’ve had ideas for how to fill them. Ancient Egyptians decorated their floors with motifs of natural forms they associated with the Nile. The Romans placed couches around their dining tables so they could eat while partially reclined. Instead of furniture, Islamic societies in the Middle East wove elaborate rugs, a natural preference for the region’s relative scarcity of wood. After the Protestant Reformation, the Dutch were left with a church that prized austerity over the ornate. This eventually bled over into the designs of their homes, which were notable, during the excesses of the Renaissance, for their plain white walls. Yet throughout this long history, the idea of the home has remained a private one. Save for the regular cast of visiting relatives and the occasional guest, our interiors have never aspired to please anyone outside their own walls.


— A feature from a 1978 edition of House Beautiful, America’s oldest interior design magazine