LGBTQ History Through Decor and Design
What does LGBTQ history look like? Depending on who you ask, the answer could be radically different. To some people, it may be a celebration of colorful drag queens and activists who fought for equality. To others, it might be a more subtle representation of everyday objects and decor. In this blog post, we'll explore some of the ways that LGBTQ history has been displayed in homes and public spaces over the years. Whether it's through rainbow flags or subtly subversive art, we hope to give you a new perspective on this important part of our cultural heritage. So buckle up and get ready to see some inspiring examples of LGBTQ pride!
There's no doubt that LGBTQ individuals have made significant contributions to society, considering how often we use and interact with our home environment, it's no surprise that the queer community has left its mark in this arena, too.
Elsie de Wolfe
Elsie de Wolfe is considered the founding mother of interior design. Born in 1859, she began her career as an actress before earning fame and influence among the high society crowd. It was a profession
that didn’t even exist at the time. Her clientèle (clients) included Henry Clay Frick, Amy Vanderbilt, Cole Porter, Wallis Simpson, and George Bernard Shaw.
As a result, she disapproved of overly designed Victorian interiors, preferring instead to simplify spaces for entertaining. The artist's aesthetic can be described as colorful, airy, and opulent. She once said of her legacy “I opened the doors and windows of America, and let the air and sunshine in,”.A great deal of her design inspiration comes from 18th-century French design, including pale color schemes, exotic animal prints, wicker furniture, and nature motifs, as well as strategically placed mirrors.
While De Wolfe's professional life was equally colorful, her private one was as well: she lived an open and happy life with her lover, Elisabeth "Bessie" Marbury, a successful theatrical and literary agent. During their 40-year relationship, the couple renovated several homes in Manhattan, as well as the 'Villa Trianon,' a French estate outside of Versailles. They maintained their relationship until Marbury's death in 1933, when de Wolfe was named her only heir.
Mary ‘May’ Morris
As a textile designer, Mary 'May' Morris never received the recognition she deserved due to her famous father, William Morris. Morris & Co. was a family business that made printed fabrics and wallpapers, stained glass, and artful embroidery - many of their famous designs are still cherished today and are distributed by Sanderson.
At the age of 23, she was a talented wallpaper designer, a poet, and head of the embroidery department at Morris & Co. As a feminist and socialist, she co-founded the Women's Guild of Arts in 1907, disappointed by the fact that the Art Workers Guild excluded women.
Additionally, she was a lesbian and lived with her partner, Mary Lobb, for more than twenty years in a historic manor house in West Oxfordshire, England. Originally hired by May to be the 'female gardener' at Kelmscott Manor, Lobb and May quickly formed a close bond, and Lobb decided to move in. The couple was fond of camping in the countryside and visited Iceland together several times. May Morris died in October 1938, and Mary Lobb died five months later in March 1938.
The legacy of Gray was nearly erased from history books, but thanks to two films about her life, her legacy has been revived. E.1027 was often mistakenly credited to her ex-boyfriend Jean Badovici, despite the fact that she designed it for him as a modernist love shack. Thankfully, her work has not been forgotten, and E.1027 is now a museum open to the public.