Interior design is a universal art, but in a time when women are fighting for power, it’s nice to reflect on the empowering women who have and continue to pioneer in this field. These women challenged or revolutionized design concepts resulting in the industry of today. As an homage to design divas everywhere, explore the empowering list of the most influential women in interior design.
Dutch designer Petra Blaisse’s design talents don’t stop at interior, but span the realms of landscape, textile and exhibition designs as well. Her unique approach can be described as an amalgamation of culture, nature, sophistication and functionality. After dipping her toes in the world of design while working at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Blaisse became a freelance designer in 1987 and began gaining recognition for her work. In 1991, she founded the design firm Inside Out that combines expertise in various fields including landscape architecture, textile design and interior design. With Inside Out, Blaisse has contributed to many great projects including the Seattle Central Library, Casa de Musica in Porto and the Toledo Museum of Art.
Frances Elkins has earned a reputation as being one of the most prominent female interior designers of the twentieth century, no small achievement. She is the sister of renowned architect David Adler, and often traveled with him throughout Europe igniting her design passion and gathering inspiration. Her travels and emersion into different cultures allowed Elkins to develop a worldly and eclectic interior design style, with a tendency to mix different design eras in nearly every room she completed. Drawing inspiration from Jean-Michel Frank and Alberto Giacometti, Elkins eclectic nature favored patterns and color.
Featured in Vogue, New York Times and Traditional Home, Laura Day is a modern interior design influence. The New York based designer was featured on the fourth season of TLC’s hit show Trading Spaces due to her sophisticated designs that portray easy elegance. A lover of travel, Day uses her cultural travel experiences to influence her designs.
There is a reason why the New Yorker dubbed Kelly Wearstler as “the presiding grand dame of West coast interior design.” Since her start in the 1990s, Wearstler’s distinct playful style has revolutionized the design industry. Before becoming a celebrity designer, she built her reputation in the hospitality industry with notable designs such as the Viceroy hotel chain and Avalon Beverly Hills. Since her skyrocketing popularity as a designer, Wearstler has released four books and launched an eponymous luxury lifestyle brand. Her contemporary, over-the-top yet elegant and sophisticated designs make a timeless statement that is here to stay.
“Dorothy Draper was to decorating what Chanel was to fashion,” stated Draper’s protégé Carleton Varney. His statement holds some truth, as Draper is definitely one of the most iconic women in interior design. She opened her firm, Architectural Clearing House in 1925, extending her colorful, elegant, modern Baroque style to the public working on notable projects like the Fairmont San Francisco, the New York MET and Greenbrier Resort. A true KOKET, Dorothy exuded sass and luxury in her designs that led her to become an interior design icon.
Elise de Wolfe
Known as one of the first interior designers, Elise de Wolfe revolutionized modern design by shedding the overbearing Victorian aesthetic of her time. She developed a brighter, cheerful, less cluttered approach to design than her traditional predecessors, often rejecting dark colors and overcrowded spaces. Born in 1859, de Wolfe originally tried her hand at acting before delving into design. During her years as an interior designer, de Wolfe acclaimed socialite status, designing for prestigious names like Anne Vanderbilt, Conde Nast and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.
The clean and elegant designs of Barbara Berry have been charming clients since she opened her design firm in Los Angeles in 1985. Mostly self-taught, Berry is known for emulating the elegance and livability of the California style. She is deeply inspired by nature, and strives to engage the senses for a visceral experience of the power of design. With other 30 years in the interior design industry, Berry has expanded to collaborating on product designs with companies such as Baker Furniture, Kravet Fabrics, Ann Sacks Tile & Stone, and Bloomingdales with her bedding collection.
Since founding her eponymous firm 25 years ago, Victoria Hagan has been celebrated for her intelligent integration of architecture and interior design. Based in New York City, Hagan designs for clients all over the world consistently integrating her signature American style centered around refined materials and innovative silhouettes. From designing country residences to urban retreats, Hagan told Architectural Digest in 2014, “my work is all about comfort, function and scale.”
Which of the most influential women in interior design is your favorite? Tell us in the comments or share on social media! For more empowering inspiration, visit the KOKET Ideas & Inspirations page.