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Interior Design  
page: 1  2  3  4  

Another television designer is Turkish-born John Gidding (b. 1977), a former model who is both an architect and an interior designer. A graduate of Yale and the Harvard Graduate School of Design, Gidding worked his way through school by modeling for such clients as Armani, Gucci, and Hugo Boss, and posing for the covers of romance novels.

He first earned recognition as a landscape architect before opening John Gidding Design, Inc. in New York City.

He has appeared on several television shows, including ABC Family's Knock First and HGTV's Designed to Sell, but is best known as the architect/designer on HGTV's Atlanta-based Curb Appeal: The Block, where he and his team improve the exteriors of chosen homes, usually doing major improvements for one homeowner and less expensive touch-ups for two or three others in an attempt to improve the neighborhood itself.

In true gay style, designer Nate Berkus (b. 1971) acquired the decorating bug very early: his first project was re-doing his own bedroom when he was eight years old. After studying design in Chicago and Paris, he founded his own design firm in 1995, but achieved national attention in 2002 when he made his first appearance on Oprah Winfrey's talk show. He become a regular on the show in 2004, giving audience members advice on interior décor.

In December 2004 Berkus and his partner, photographer Fernando Bengoecha, were vacationing at a beach resort in Sri Lanka when the Indian Ocean tsunami struck. They were both swept out to sea. Berkus managed to survive, but Bengoechea apparently drowned. Berkus appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show on January 17, 2005, to talk about his ordeal and the loss of his partner.

Of the response to this appearance, Berkus told The Advocate's Matthew Breen, "I didn't realize how much goodwill there was out there in middle America. I got letters from people of all different walks of life--gay, straight, rich, poor, black, white, Asian. It was a moment where everybody just felt all the same pain--that this guy is going through something enormously painful, and we've gotten to know him over the years, so this is something we feel for him."

In 2010, Berkus became a television personality in his own right, and the first out gay male daytime talk show host in the United States, with the syndicated program The Nate Berkus Show. Viewers of the popular show seem willing to accept Berkus's expertise not only on matters of design, but on a wide range of social topics as well.

When First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama chose Michael Smith (b. 1964) to be the official White House designer the surprise was less that he was openly gay than that he was based in Santa Monica, California, rather than in Chicago or the east coast. Smith, who is known for designs that are sophisticated but comfortable and classic yet modern, was named among Architectural Digest's top 100 Designers in 2002 and 2004 and Elle Décor's Designer of the Year in 2003.

Smith's redecoration of the Oval Office was revealed to mostly positive reviews in August 2010. The design features taupe patterned drapes, pale striped wallpaper, a mixture of traditional and contemporary furniture, and a taupe rug, accented with yellow, cream and blue, with five inspiring inscriptions woven into its border.

Smith has also, to less fanfare, decorated the White House's private quarters, including the bedrooms of the President and First Lady and their two daughters. It is perhaps indicative of the changing social view of gayness that Smith was chosen because of his family-friendly approach to interior design.

Tina Gianoulis
Claude J. Summers

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   Related Entries
literature >> Overview:  Aestheticism

A theory of art and an approach to living that influenced many European and American gay male and lesbian writers at the turn of the twentieth century, aestheticism stressed the independence of art from all moral and social conditions and judgments.

arts >> Overview:  American Television, Reality Shows

Reality television viewers have come increasingly to expect the appearance of gay men and lesbians on these shows because their presence helps further underscore the "reality" in Reality TV.

arts >> Overview:  American Television, Talk Shows

For glbt people, television talk shows have been both promising and problematic; they have brought glbt issues to public awareness, but until recently they have also presented glbt people as stereotypes and freaks.

arts >> Overview:  Arts and Crafts Movement

As part of its reaction against the industrialism of the nineteenth century, the Arts and Crafts movement, which emphasized handcrafted decorative works of art and architecture, created medieval-type artists' guilds, which have been seen as homosocial.

literature >> Overview:  Bloomsbury

The Bloomsbury circle's open acceptance of erotic license and hostility toward social convention are important elements in the history of homosexuality among the English upper classes in the first half of the twentieth century.

arts >> Overview:  British Television

Until recently, British television embraced lesbians and gays as Them rather than Us, but a more diversified and nuanced approach to all kinds of sexuality is likely to be the case in the future.

arts >> Overview:  Canadian Television

The portrayal of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, and queer people in English Canadian television programming has been sporadic, but the advent of PrideVision promises to increase the number of shows developed for a glbtq audience.

literature >> Overview:  Decadence

Nineteenth-century Decadent literature either describes aspects of decadent life and society or reflects the decadent literary aesthetic.

arts >> Overview:  Fashion

The association between homosexuality and fashion is multifaceted, ranging from the role of clothes as signifiers of sexual orientation to the immense contributions gay men have made at all levels of the fashion industry.

arts >> Overview:  Set and Costume Design

Set and costume design for stage and film are fields that have attracted a large number of talented gay men and lesbians.

arts >> Batt, Bryan

Actor and designer Bryan Batt achieved fame playing a closeted advertising executive on television, but in his own life he has been active in affirming the naturalness of homosexuality.

arts >> Grant, Duncan

One of the major British artists of the twentieth century, Duncan Grant was also the sexual catalyst of the Bloomsbury Circle.

arts >> Gray, Eileen

Renowned designer of furniture, rugs, and lacquered screens, Eileen Gray also gained fame as an architect who created elegant and spare residences.

arts >> Haines, William "Billy"

Among the top five motion picture actors from 1928 to 1933, William "Billy" Haines later became one of the most successful interior designers in the country.

arts >> Johnson, Philip

A dominating force in American architecture, Philip C. Johnson had a chameleon-like career in which he often reinvented himself.

arts >> Morgan, Julia

Pioneering California architect Julia Morgan designed more than 700 buildings, including many commissioned by women's groups, but she is most remembered as the architect of San Simeon.

literature >> Pater, Walter

The aesthetic of the important and influential Victorian critic Walter Pater reflected a homosexual sensibility.

arts >> Percier(-Bassant), Charles (1764-1838), and Pierre-François-Léonard Fontaine (1762-1853)

French architects and designers Charles Percier and Pierre Fontaine were among the founders and principal exponents of the neoclassic Empire style; they are known for the elegance and grace of their work and for their devotion to each other.

literature >> Wilde, Oscar

Oscar Wilde is important both as an accomplished writer and as a symbolic figure who exemplified a way of being homosexual at a pivotal moment in the emergence of gay consciousness.

arts >> Wolfe, Elsie de

American lesbian Elsie de Wolfe helped create the profession of interior decorating; she was also one of the central figures of an elite New York "Amazon enclave" during the early years of the twentieth century.


Breen, Matthew. "Intelligent Design." The Advocate (September 2010):

Budny, Ronald C. "Interior design from the beginning: Elsie de Wolfe." Indianapolis Business Journal (June 30, 2008): 16B.

Gieseke, Winston. "David Bromstad Paints for a Cause." The Advocate (July 25, 2011):

Keith, Christie. "HGTV's David Bromstad Shines on Color Splash." AfterElton (June 3, 2007):

Kling, Cynthia. "Shortlist: Nate Berkus." Elle Décor (April 2009):

Lewis, Alfred Allan. Ladies and Not So Gentle Women. New York: Viking, 2000.

Mann, William J. Wisecracker: The Life and Times of William Haines, Hollywood's First Openly Gay Star. New York: Penguin, 1999.

McNeil, Peter. "John Beresford Fowler." Who's Who in Gay and Lesbian History: From Antiquity to World War II. Robert Aldrich and Garry Wotherspoon, eds. New York, Routledge: 2001. 196.

Pile,John. History of Interior Design. 2nd ed. London: Laurence King Publishing, 2005.

Pupo, Mark. "Home Boys: Steven Sabados and Mark Hyndman Bring Their Shiny, Happy Chic to the CBC." Toronto Life (February 2008):

Rice, Charles. The Emergence of the Interior: Architecture, Modernity, Domesticity. New York: Routledge, 2007.

Wadler, Joyce. "Amicably Split, and Still Sharing." New York Times Magazine (August 9, 2007):

Wood, Martin. John Fowler: Prince of Decorators. London: Frances Lincoln, 2007.


    Citation Information
    Author: Gianoulis, Tina ; Summers, Claude J.  
    Entry Title: Interior Design  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2011  
    Date Last Updated September 25, 2011  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2011 glbtq, Inc.  


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