Once an intuitive practice, the design of interior space evolved from a fragmented collection of skilled craft trades – the upholsterer, the furniture-maker, the carpenter, the mill worker, the plasterer, and the painter to name a few. Any one of them may have contributed individually to an interior space, but collectively these trades did not, and could not, provide the totality of experience that the discipline of interior design is called upon to do.
In contrast, a single craft profession – upholstery- generated the role of the interior decorator, Decorating as the application of textiles, originally used on walls, expanded to furniture, and eventually to the design of entire rooms:
The fitting up of domestic textiles in large households was originally carried out by the tapissierand the fourrier. Their work included the supply of canopies, wall tapestries, table carpets and other soft furnishings for interior decoration. It was these posts that were subsumed by the upholsterer during the 17th century.
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In the early nineteenth century, the upholsterer evolved from furniture-maker to discerning selector of coordinated interior furnishings. By the end of the century, when the craft production of furniture had largely ceased, the upholsterer, who had now begun to be called an interior decorator, stood as an authority on domestic taste.
The interior decorator had emerged as an individual whose sensitivity helped shape the stylistic preferences of upper-class women. Many of the misconceptions about interior design that we face today spring from this development. It is the source.