It's no secret that we are just as obsessed with interior design as you are. And, while we will happily spend our days talking about the latest color of the year, most sought-after furniture, and coolest decor ideas, we know that these trends didn't happen overnight. Instead, they are the byproducts of some of the industry's most iconic designers; creatives who used their unique visions to lay the groundwork for how we spruce up our spaces today. Sure, some designers are the interiors equivalent to rockstars; however, their stories and legacies are often overlooked on a day-to-day basis. (After all, do you know who Jackie Kennedy enlisted to decorate the White House? Exactly.)
Fortunately, you've come to the right place. If you want to enhance your design IQ, we're breaking down 25 of the most famous interior designers. From classic creatives to modern legends who are redefining the industry today, think of this list as Interior Design: 101.
The design expert and Emmy-nominated TV host has single-handedly proven that there's beauty in every space. On his hit show, Queer Eye, Berk transforms homes on a tight deadline, bringing his bright, contemporary spirit to every nook and cranny. (Trust us, the results are unrecognizable.) And, thanks to his online platform and curated furniture line, Berk's influence is way more than television magic.
Elsie de Wolfe
Author, actress, wife to a British diplomat, which garnered her the title Lady Mendl: it's safe to say that Elsie de Wolfe wore plenty of hats during her 85 years. But, the most prominent? America's first decorator. With an impressive roster of clients—such as high-society families like the Fricks and the Hewitts—de Wolfe is credited as being design royalty. (Back then, interior design was considered a more masculine field, so suffice to say de Wolfe also brought a feminine touch to the industry.) Of course, there's a reason why de Wolfe is still regarded as a trailblazer today: her anti-Victorian aesthetic offered a breath of fresh air in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Speaking of de Wolfe, we'd be remiss to leave her most notable mentee— Tony Duquette—out of the conversation. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Duquette got his start as a set designer for films—and brought his fantastical eye away from the camera, too. As an avid traveler, Duquette would famously search far and wide to find inspiration to complete his maximalist vision. His most iconic project was definitely Dawnridge, a Beverly Hills property that his protégé, Hutton Wilkinson, has looked after since Duquette's passing in 1999.
Brigette Romanek opened her eponymous firm in 2018, but she's already on her way to design infamy. Not only has she landed on every top designer list from the past few years, but she also has a star-studded roster with celebrities like Beyoncé, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Demi Moore. And, with with her colorful, yet timeless, approach to decorating, we can agree that a design star has been born.
Berkus might've landed on the design radar when he was a regular guest on Oprah Winfrey's eponymous talk show in the early aughts, but his star has grown tenfold since then. Over the years, Berkus' projects have become synonymous with a masculine and timeless aesthetic, which often features classic pieces, a high-contrast palette, and earthy accents. Now, Berkus has partnerships, collections, and on-screen opportunities with husband and fellow designer, Jeremiah Brent. Talk about a power couple!
Calling all maximalists: you have Dorothy Draper to thank for your more-is-more aesthetic. Founded in 1925, Dorothy Draper's design business is often regarded as the first and most acclaimed design firm in the United States. And, with her inventive eye for bright colors and bold patterns, it's safe to say her projects are just as smile-inducing as they were during her tenure. In 2006, the Museum of the City of New York opened a solo retrospective of Draper's work — which reportedly attracted over one million visitors. But, if you'd like to see her design magic in the wild, her firm has been credited with dreaming up interiors for properties like the Greenbrier and the Colony Hotel.
Born Dorothy May Kinnicutt, Sister Parish rose through the ranks and has gone down in history as one of the greatest designers of all time. Though Parish had an impressive roster of clients—she was even commissioned by Jackie Kennedy to decorate the White House—you might be surprised to hear she turned her passion for interiors into a career during the Great Depression, when both her husband and father took massive pay cuts. Parish passed away in 1994, but she left behind her signature American Country style. So, the next time you spot a patchwork quilt or chintzy slipcover, remember that it was all Parish's doing.
When it comes to the interior design industry, all roads lead to Albert Hadley. Though he got his start as Billy Baldwin's protégé, he ended up becoming a design icon in his own right. Not only did he collaborate frequently with Sister Parish, but he was also reportedly a mentor for an array of popular designers such as Bunny Williams and Thom Filicia. But, his biggest legacy? His chameleon-like aesthetic and sharp instinct for knowing when a room was complete.
There's a reason why Billy Baldwin Decorates is still considered one of the most influential design books. Though the American decorator is known for ultra-innovative projects like Diana's Vreeland's iconic crimson drawing room (Diana is pictured here) and Jackie Onassis' Grecian digs, it was his emphasis on "good bones" that has made him a long-term favorite. Unlike many designers in his day, Baldwin believed that a room should be filled with pieces his clients actually owned, making the mix between old and new all the rage. Plus, he firmly believed that sprucing up a space was a partnership between the decorator and their client. Sure, this might seem obvious now, but his design philosophy was nothing less than game-changing at the time.
It's not hard to see why Kelly Wearstler is, quite literally, teaching the MasterClass on modern-day design. Since launching her own design firm in the 1990s, Wearstler has conquered every corner of the design industry—working on residential and commercial projects as well as lifestyle products. But, no matter what she's working on, her thoughtful use of silhouettes, colors, and materials never fails to shine through. The result? Modern luxury at its finest.
Mario Buatta might be lovingly referred to as the Prince of Chintz, but we'd also argue he's the grandfather of grandmillennial décor. Over the course of his career—which spanned across five decades—the designer adored the glossy floral fabric and would put it everywhere. Curtains? Couches? Light fixtures? Check, check, and check. Fun fact: prior to his passing in 2018, Buatta designed spaces for celebrities like Barbara Walter and Mariah Carey.
Harold Curtis Brown
Leading the charge for diversity in design was Harold Curtis Brown. After studying at the Boston School of Fine Arts and the New School of Design—followed by a stint working in Paris—Brown made his mark by designing various clubs and hotels, like Hotel Navarro, that were made famous during the Harlem Renaissance. While not much is known about Brown's later years, he will forever go down in history as one of the country's first Black designers.
For Sheila Bridges' unmistakable design style, she starts with a classic base and adds unexpected elements throughout. Peppered in tactile materials, thought-provoking color palettes, and plenty of global influence, Bridges brings a modern approach to traditional design. And, if you want to get a slice of her style in your space, her Harlem Toile wallpaper and fabric hit that sweet spot between old and new.
Frank Lloyd Wright
The Midwestern multi-hyphenate might be famous for his awe-inspiring architecture, but let's not forget that Frank Lloyd Wright had a knack for great interior design, too. After decades of opulent traditionalism, Wright brought a pared-back approach to his homes. From his earthy palettes, to sparse accessorizing, to an affinity for geometric patterns, his influence offered a new look at modern design.
From coordinating wallpaper and fabric to furniture like a drama-fueled four-post bed, David Hicks never shied away from setting trends. But, perhaps our favorite over his multi-decade career was his approach to mixing and matching inspiration sources. Contemporary wares paired with antique finds? Hicks gave this juxtaposition a resounding yes—and the industry followed suit.
With nine books, a handful of awards and television appearances, and over 40 years of experience under her belt, the British designer is nothing short of a household name. Of course, there's more to Kelly Hoppen's practice than a list of accolades: the designer is the queen of juxtaposition, offsetting clean lines and neutrals with a warm opulence.
Justina Blakeney is carrying the proverbial torch and giving bohemian style modern-day appeal. Over the past few years, Blakeney has gone from running her beloved site, the Jungalow, to striking deals with big-time retailers like Target and penning her own best-selling tome. Chances are, you've definitely double-tapped on the social media darling's bright and cheery interiors.
Contrary to popular belief, simple doesn't have to be boring. And, perhaps very few creatives followed that design ethos like Jean-Michel Frank. The French interior and furniture designer epitomized the balance between subtle and statement, featuring upscale materials like shagreen on pared-back pieces. The result? Opulent minimalism that would turn heads.
As for today's reigning champion of minimalist design, it's none other than Axel Vervoordt. The Belgian interior design and multi-hyphenate is known for incorporating natural materials and history into his projects, creating what can only be described as livable art. Need proof? Look no further than the home he designed for Kanye and Kim Kardashian West, which has been famously described as a minimalist monastery.
Martyn Lawrence Bullard
Another famous interior designer with a strong celebrity following? Martyn Lawrence Bullard. The London-born, Los Angeles-based creative was bit by the design bug at an early age, collecting "oddments" when he was just 12 years-old. Since then, he has brought his signature "Hollywood glamour"—a blend of luxury and comfort—to A-List clients like Cher, Ellen Pompeo, and Kylie Jenner.
The New York-based designer might be known for his bold pottery, furniture, and home accents, but Jonathan Adler also knows a thing or two about eye-catching interior design. When it comes to his indoor projects, Adler places a heavy emphasis on bright colors, bold geometric patterns, and unexpected elements like a hand-shaped objet. Chic and cheeky in equal measure.
Multi-hyphenate Eileen Gray has gone down in history for bringing her own well-appointed eye to the male-dominated modernism movement. Though Gray might be known for her furniture creations and architectural accomplishments—she created iconic buildings with no formal training—she did have a knack for interior design, too. Case in point: E-1027, an iconic villa along the French Riviera that has become a UNESCO World Heritage site. We know, wow.
Nowadays, how we spot great talent changes faster than you can double-tap on an Instagram. But, with a robust following on social media (142 thousand and counting) and a gig as the host of HGTV's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition , Breegan Jane is not one to miss. The Los Angeles-based designer infuses each space with an elegant yet attainable eye, which epitomizes modern-day decor. Whether she's using vivid brights or dreamy neutrals, her spaces are always sleek, sophisticated, and incredibly serene.
Leanne Ford is proof that one fabulous design project can catapult your entire career. The top designer was thrusted into the spotlight when she restored a 20th century schoolhouse in her hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Since then, Ford has brought her cozy aesthetic and signature "white on white" palette to books, glossy magazines, and two television shows.
If we could describe Joanna Gaines' design influence with a single word, it'd have to be "shiplap." On Fixer Upper, which she costarred alongside husband Chip, Gaines brought the modern farmhouse aesthetic mainstream by doubling down on warm woods, a high-contrast palette, and, yes, shiplap. And, over the past few years, Gaines has grown her Magnolia Network design empire with products, workshops, and several best-selling books.