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5 Interior Designers Who Changed the World
March 17, 2023

5 Interior Designers Who Changed the World

Out of all the interior designers who ever lived, here are the 5 most influential in history.


According to The New Yorker, "Interior design as a profession was invented by Elsie de Wolfe." This is not quite the truth, but with Elsie's social status and impressive contacts she was able to obtain this status. Born in New York in 1859, early on in her life Elsie grew tired of the Victorian aesthetic of her childhood.

As her portfolio developed, her interiors became characterized by a brighter, cheerful, less cluttered look that made entertaining friends much easier. Instead of dark heavy drapery and overcrowded spaces Elsie incorporated paler walls with large mirrors and wicker pieces for a lighter feel.. Her impressive roster of clients included Amy Vanderbilt, Anne Morgan, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and Henry and Adelaide Clay Frick.     


Dorothy Draper is not only famous for her exuberant style but also for creating one defining style movement known as American Baroque. Draper's interior design style was the absolute opposite of minimalism. Using only bright vivid colors and large prints, Draper created dramatic interiors. She started by decorating her own home, and then in 1925 created her own decorating business.

Her first big break came when Douglas Elliman hired her to decorate the Carlyle Hotel.  The famed Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia also hired her and maintained her as their interior designer from 1946-1960. She strongly believed that the energy of a bright and vivid room would bring happy thoughts and cheerful memories.  The bold and colorful personalities of Draper's interiors were witnessed in her work on homes, hotels, department stores, restaurants, and theaters.  


In 1985 Barbara Barry formed her own company in Los Angeles, California and since then it has taken the design world by storm. Barry is mostly self taught and is known for emulating the elegance and livability of the California style.

Barry has collaborated on product designs with companies such as Baker Furniture, Kravet Fabrics, Ann Sacks Tile & Stone, and Bloomingdales with her bedding collection. Her clean and sophisticated designs are seen all over California, but she works worldwide as well. Barry has also published several books that represent her beautiful taste and design ideas.


Victoria Hagan has been in the design business for over 20 years and has been respected for integrating architecture and interior design. "My work is all about comfort, function, and scale," she told Architectural Digest back in 2014.

Hagan has designed projects throughout the country from urban residences to country retreats. Her design philosophy centers around the use of refined materials and innovative silhouettes that have a strong sense of the American style. Hagan's book, published with Rizzoli and entitled Victoria Hagan: Interior Portraits, shares a wealth of classic yet current interiors. Carini Lang has worked with the Victoria Hagan team for over a decade now and we always look forward to new projects.


Kelly Wearstler has grown her brand tremendously since launching in the mid-1990s. The New Yorker dubbed her "the presiding dame of West Coast interior design," and she has become known as a "celebrity designer" since then. Wearstler's design aesthetic can be characterized as over-the-top elegance that adds a contemporary sophistication, combining the past and future seamlessly.

She began building her reputation designing hotels throughout California and from there she has designed for clients such as Cameron Diaz, Gwen Stefani, and Stacey Snider. Wearstler has published four books and has collaborated with companies such as F. Schumacher & Co, Pickard China, and Ann Sacks Stone & Tile.