We celebrate actors, singers, dancers, writers, directors, painters, comedians, and other kinds of artists, but we hardly show love to the world’s most underrated art form: interior design.
Done right, good home interior design just feels natural. All of the elements come together for a functional and beautiful living experience that’s unique to you.
These interior designers are masters of space. They know how to zero in on the small details to paint a breathtaking bigger picture. Here are the six most famous interior designers, representing a diverse range of interior design styles.
6. Elsie de Wolfe
Also known as Lady Mendl, Elsie de Wolfe was an actress, author, and interior decorator in the early 1900s. Inspired by her work in theatre, de Wolfe set out to become a decorator and is, in fact, recognised as one of the world’s very first interior designers.
Driven by her hatred of the dark and heavy Victorian aesthetic, de Wolfe’s designs were bright, soft, and feminine. She made use of pale-coloured furniture, mirrors, and airy fabrics to create the illusion of light and space.
5. Dorothy Draper
Following in de Wolfe’s footsteps is another brilliant female interior decorator. Dorothy Draper was from a wealthy, aristocratic family in New York. She took annual trips to Europe with her family and studied at the prestigious Brearley School in the Upper East Side. This gave her invaluable confidence, access to a network of elites, and a familiarity with the styles that would later inform her work.
Draper was most famous for creating the “modern baroque” aesthetic, which modernised the classic style. She loved bold, dramatic colours and often combined multiple patterns and textures in the same room.
Her maximalist designs were found in various hotels and restaurants, like the Greenbrier Hotel in West Virginia, for which she was paid a cool $USD4.2 million – worth almost $USD60 million ($AUD87.11 million) today and the most any interior decorator has ever been paid. She was also tasked with designing the cafeteria at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1954.
4. Sister Parish
Born as Dorothy May Kinnicutt, Sister Parish was one of the biggest influences on American decorating. Like her cousin Dorothy Draper, Parish’s family were socialites who lived in Manhattan. But when The Great Depression hit, both her father and her husband lost quite a bit of money.
This drove a 23-year-old Parish, who had no experience in interior design, to open a decorating business in 1933. Her style has been described as unrestrained, romantic, and light. She is also credited with creating the American country aesthetic.
But good taste must have run in the blood. After a slew of gigs decorating friends’ houses, Parish was invited by none other than the Kennedy family to decorate their Georgetown Home. When John F. Kennedy won the presidency, they asked her to decorate the White House.
While working on the White House remodelling, Parish met Albert Hadley, another young designer. They would work together and eventually become firm partners, collaborating on designs until Parish’s death in 1994.
4. Jean-Louis Deniot
When we talk about the best interior designers working today, there is one name that tops almost every list: Jean-Louis Deniot. Before becoming a globally-renowned name, Deniot was educated at the Ecole Comondo. Upon graduating, he founded a design firm that would garner him international acclaim.
His design philosophy is truly eclectic and experimental, with each project being completely unique and different from the last. His definition of interior design isn’t minimalism or excess, it’s balance and harmony. He pairs modern spaces with antique decor, elegance with drama, bold textures with muted tones.
Deniot’s world-famous interiors can be found all over the world, from apartments in Paris to even the inside of a private plane.
3. Kelly Hoppen
Famous for her minimalist design philosophy, “Queen of Taupe” Kelly Hoppen believes there is such as a thing as “too much”. The “Kelly Hoppen look” is defined by neutral tones, a casual yet sophisticated air, and elegant minimalism. She adds more personality through textures, not colours, for a timelessly chic design.
Today, when she’s not decorating homes for celebrities like David and Victoria Beckham or Elton John, she’s handling her thriving furniture design business.
2. Greg Natale
The most famous Australian designer is arguably Greg Natale. Born and raised in Sydney, Natale not only studied interior design and visual arts, but he also studied architecture at the University of Technology, Sydney. After five years of working for other firms, he established Greg Natale Design.
Natale likes to decorate his rooms with opulence and luxury. You can immediately tell a Natale design because of its bold use of patterns and carefully-selected colour palette.
The award-winning designer has made Australia proud. Natale’s racked up much acclaim, including the Architectural Digest Mexico’s “The World’s Most Influential Designers” in 2015 and the High Point Market 2016 Luxury International Designer of the Year.
1. Philippe Starck
It should come to no surprise that another French designer made this list. Philip Starck was one of the biggest names in interior and industrial design in the ‘80s. His style is free, unconventional, energetic, and rebellious – yet still completely timeless.
What really set him apart is his belief in “democratic design”, or making good design available to as many people as possible. He also believed in sustainability and ethics in design, using recycled and reclaimed materials in his line of furniture
Most of our budgets won’t be able to handle the price tag on a Deniot or Hoppen. But even if you can’t afford world-famous interior designers, that doesn’t stop you from taking tips and ideas from their iconic designs.