Maybe we’d like to think that interior design is something that the modern man created, but even if our tastes have refined over time and even if we now have an almost infinite variety of processing techniques, materials and even already made objects, man’s attention towards beautifying the spaces in which he spends his time exists ever since Prehistoric times.
Or maybe this didn’t necessarily start out as an aesthetic need? The oldest pieces of furniture discovered so far were recovered from a site in Scotland (Skara Brae, in the Bay of Skaill, on the largest island of the Orkney archipelago). It is estimated that the Neolithic setting was inhabited 5 000 years ago (3200 – 2500 BC). During a time when people were just starting to settle down it’s no wonder that their homes were made of stone and had whalebone and turf roofs. But what is truly remarkable there is the furniture – other than the fact that those people adapted and built it out of rock because they lacked wood, the variety of furniture pieces was beyond beds and stools, which are more about necessity, they also had shelves, cupboards and even dressers. In fact, the dressers seem to have been quite important since they were symbolically placed facing the entrance, so that they were the first thing to be seen when entering the hut.
But there are even older artistic works out there, although it’s not very clear yet the purpose they served. The oldest cave paintings were created more than 34 000 years, and it is assumed that the ones from the Paleolithic Era were more than just decorative pieces. It is believed that they were a means of communicating or maybe they were part of religious rituals. There have been discovered more than 300 caves that hosted “primitive” drawings, most in Spain and France, and a lot of them illustrated large animals, but also abstract patterns; it’s not really clear why people were hardly present in the pictures and even if they were there, their representations were very light. And don’t you assume that the images were lacking colors – on the contrary – the black of charcoal was completed with yellow and red ocher, manganese oxide and other natural pigments.
Of course, many things have changed since then, but man’s needs to create, to building a more comfortable life for himself, to beautify and communicate have remained just as acute, even if they take way more abstract shapes, obtained through well perfected techniques.