Continuing with our designer history during Women’s History Month, let me introduce you to Elsie de Wolfe. Not the first interior designer, but definitely the one who put the industry on the map and made amazing strides for women in the workforce.
Elsie grew up in the Victorian era of dark, heavy and not very inspiring spaces. She felt so strongly against this design style she bucked the trends and introduce lighter and brighter spaces. Her designs were also more personal and focused on the end user over showing off.
Elsie was an influencer way before that was a thing. Or a job. Well known for the dog she kept in tow and her tendency to tint her hair to match her outfit, Elsie attracted people. A well known hostess, she loved throwing parties.
Elsie discovered her talent and passion for design while involved with the theatre. She ended up loving producing sets and creating costumes over acting so she left to to professionally design.
Her first project was the The Colony Club. Started by suffragettes (connection to Candance Wheeler much?), the women’s clubhouse was among the first to give women a place to gather and rebel! Elsie echoed the rebelling by designing a space that was the complete opposite of men’s clubs. Enter white painted furniture, clean spaces and soft lines. A design style we find ourselves back in these days.
Elsie had a large roster of high end clients. While Candace Wheeler is the mother of design, Elsie de Wolfe turned interior design into a profession. Her connections and high profile as a socialite and former actress gave her a platform and a voice for women.
Elsie’s style was one of practical design. She loved using mirrors to open and lighten rooms. Light fabric, pale wall colors and wicker furniture brought the outdoors in and became popular with women all over.
This style is still popular today and really gave women a voice to break free of the Victorian era. Here’s to lightening and brightening your space today!
Check out Part 3 for more women changing the world!