The role of interior decorator probably came into existence in the 1720s in Western Europe, mostly being performed by men of diverse backgrounds. William Kent, who was trained as a history painter, is often cited as the first person to take charge of an entire interior, including internal architecture, furniture selection, and the hanging of paintings.
In London, this role was frequently filled by the upholsterer (sometimes called the upholder), while in Paris the marchand-mercier (a "merchant of goods" who acts as general contractor) often filled this role. Architects both in Great Britain and on the European continent also often served as interior decorators. Robert Adam, the neoclassical architect, is perhaps the most well-know late-century example of an architect who took on entire interiors, down to the doorknobs and fire-irons. Other 18th-century men who filled the role of interior decorator include Sir William Chambers, James Wyatt and Dominique Daguerre (marchand-mercier who emigrated to England). During the 1830s, interior decorators were responsible for the revival of interest in Gothic and Rococo styles in England. By the late 19th century, some firms set themselves apart as "art furnishers."
Modern interior decorators began with Lenygon and Morant in London, Charles Alavoine and Jeanselme in Paris, and Herter Brothers (from 1864) and Elsie De Wolfe and Ogden Codman in New York.
Other early interior decorators:
Many of the most famous designers and decorators during the 20th Century had no formal training. Sister Parish, Mark Hampton, Robert Denning and Vincent Fourcade, Stephen Chase, Mario Buatta, John Saladino, Kelly Wearster, Jeanine Naviaux and many others were trend-setting innovators in the worlds of design and decoration.