I once paid good money( by accident) to hear a well known gentleman discuss how Architects liked to “erect” tall pinnacle shaped buildings , while Interior Designers focus on the “inside”. The idea is that Architecture is a masculine profession and Interior Design is a feminine profession. The presentation almost made me feel like I had attended an R rated movie , and also made me wonder if I was supposed to think I was ” less than”. Less than as serious as an Architect for example. Who did more important things like build phallic symbol structures according to the seminar.
I also recently have read a very interesting book called ” After Taste/ Expanded Practice In Interior Design.” Which states on page 15 , if I may quote , that “Historically , interior design has been identified with feminine taste , and this has led to its marginalization , especially by architects.” Of course as most of us know , there are male Interior Designers , and female Architects (although very few , some statics say as small as 1 per cent of registered Architects in the USA are women.)
As we make up more than half the world’s population , I don’t feel diminished , defeated , minimized , or marginal because I am female. I also have not worked with any Architects that made me feel that way. Or for that matter seemed to have phallic fascinations.
Rather than focus on sexist statements , cliques , or unsupported attacks on Interior Design as a “real “profession . I would like to have a chance here to put across my own observations about what is important to know now and in the future about Interior Design .
1. Being in a female dominated industry is not a bad thing. Most of the wealth in the world is in the hands of women now. Obviously almost all Interior Designers and their clients know that the styles that emerge from client /designer collaberations can be masculine , feminine , or androgynous. Whether a male or female designer , we aren’t all peddling Chintz and Cabbage Roses. We are designing medical facilities , retail showrooms , and sustainable interiors. I never had a client worry that I would go all “girly” on them because I possessed ovaries.
2. The future of Interior Design is expansive and solid. Yes the Economy has been sluggish and College enrollment in Interior Design , ( like most professions) is down , however the diversity of specialities that are emerging in Interior Design are staggering and are moving at the speed of I-PAD generations. This is due to sustainable and technical advancements that affect all areas of design. There is also a connectivity occurring between Graphic , Fashion , Landscape , and Interior Design . We will experience an even more comprehensive and diverse service from Interior Designers in the future.
3. HGTV didn’t kill me , it made me stronger and more desirable to clients. Yes , a lot of people watch HGTV and then go DYI and enact some self expression in their own homes. But , HGTV has also made Interior Designers seem like Super Stars , and thus someone interesting to hire when budget permits. We fared better than many built industry related professions , as the public views us as a luxury purchase they hope to possess.
4. We are different from Interior Decorators , and are not going to be absorbed into any other profession. Interior Decorators work with what all ready exists. When someone decorates , they shop for furniture , etc. Interior Designers develop plans , create custom solutions to design questions , and impact the Interior Architecture of a space . We do not do the job of Architects , nor do Architects do our job , nor should they . We are a young profession with a more viable and growth oriented future than most other career paths available today.
5. Interior Design , while giving many women a chance to engage in a fulfilling and often profitable career , is not a gender identifiable profession. All nurses aren’t women , all doctors aren’t men . There is no longer a profession that is attributed more as one sex over another , except maybe sperm or egg donor. Working on the “inside” of a building whether a home or office does not release a rush of estrogen in a woman or a man and make the profession feminine. It has nothing to do with where my reproductive organs are located.
So forget about the masculine or the feminine influences on Interior Design or any profession . We can all choose to be who we want to be , work in what arena we select , and approach it from whatever gender or genderless direction we believe to be appropriate .
It is Monday , do you rush forward with preconceived notations of who you are and those who surround you? Do you flow down stream with the current toward new landings ? Or are you clinging to the same rock midstream? Today just let go and explore the possibilities.
Peggy Oberlin RID4986