Interior design was an emerging field at the turn of the 20th century, and many of its first practitioners were women. Accordingly, many of the images in the New York School of Interior Design’s (NYSID) centennial album document women who dominated the design world, built their own businesses and became published authors.
One such woman was Sheila Chapine. Born in Ontario in 1918, Chapine later attended NYSID, one of New York’s most prestigious interior design schools. She went on to graduate in 1940 and become a registrar and lecturer of color for 45 years. Chapine also worked as a career counselor and events planner during her time at NYSID as well as volunteering at the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House and St. James’ Church.
Though interior design may have been originally viewed as “decorating” , and therefore a socially acceptable career path for women in the 1900s, interior design has proven to be one of the most important professions of the century because many people spend the majority of their life inside buildings and the design of a room can have great psychological and physical impacts on inhabitants.
For more photos of women who changed the world through design, check out the NYSID Flickr collection here.