A Brief Timeline of Interior Design Movements

For those of you who are not students of interior design some of the information we present on this blog regarding the various design movements may seem a bit confusing. For example, you may at times be wondering which movement preceded which and which ideas characterized each particular movement. Well, for the sake of greater clarity and so that you can better appreciate the many designers’ works we have featured on the site, we would like to present you with this brief (and abridged) timeline of movements in the history of interior design.

  • Modernism 1880 – 1940: The modernist movement stressed simplicity, clarity of form and absence of clutter in design. Some of the leading figures in its history included Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier and Eero Saarinen. These principles can be seen in the Saarinen table and Saarinen chair we sell on our site.
  • Art Deco 1910 – 1940: This movement was a fusion of many early 20th century design styles such as Constructivism, Cubism, Modernism, Bauhaus, Art Nouveau, and Futurism. It reached the height of its popularity in the 1920s.
  • Bauhaus 1920 – 1934: In the early 20th century the German architect Walter Gropius founded the Bauhaus school of art and design in Weimar Germany. The Bauhaus movement quickly produced some of the most influential architectures, sculptors, etc of the mid and even late 20th century. Students there excelled in graphic design, interior design, industrial design, etc.
  • Surrealism 1925 – 1930: This movement sought to free people from their ideas of what was normal in the areas of design, music, art, etc. Its most famous artists included Salvador Dali, André Breton, Max Ernst, etc.
  • Scandinavian Modern 1935 – Present: This movement extols the virtues of beautiful, functional objects that are affordable and accessible. The movement remains popular to this day.
  • Postmodernism 1978 – Present: This movement arose as a challenge to what some perceived to be the blandness of the Modernist movement. One of its main proponents was Italian architect and designer Ettore Sottsass.

We hope this clarifies some of the ideas and figures behind the various interior design movements of the late 19th and early 20th century for those of you who are not students. For those of you who are forgive us for omitting some of the other movements of this period.