residential and commercial interiors. By the 1970s,
she was at the height of her career and became
one of the first women to be named a Fellow of the
American Society of Interior Designers (ASID),
an occasion she marked by jumping into the hotel
swimming pool at the 1976 convention in Denver
wearing the white dress she had worn to the awards
ceremony…but not before handing her diamond
watch to a friend to hold.
Currently, she is lobbying New York State for
even greater recognition of the profession through
the passage of a practice act, which would give
licensed interior designers the same level of profes-
sional status as doctors, lawyers, or architects. More
importantly, according to Lynford, it will make it
easier for practitioners. “Interior designers will be
able to take their drawings directly to the building
department,” she says, thereby avoiding the extra
fees of getting an architect to sign off on the draw-
ings. “It will absolutely make things easier and will
encourage clients to hire interior designers.”
She has also long worked with students, helping
to found the group New York Plus (now known as
New York Eleven Plus, or NY11+), an association of
design schools in the region that together awards
and displays the work of interior design graduates.
This commitment to building the profession,
as well as her more than 50-years-long career, has
earned her the attention and respect she craved as
a young designer. Now, she is the subject of a book
and a documentary film, both called Ruth Lynford:
My Life in Design. For the energetic nonagenarian,
these projects are not the capstone of her career;
they’re just another validation of her ongoing commitment to the profession.
Prisament interior designs by Ruth Lynford.
State title act in 1990, a rarity at the time that is now
the standard in 26 states.
The desire for professional attainment stems, in
part, from obstacles she faced early in her career.
Lynford graduated from Washington University in
St. Louis with a degree in architecture in 1947. She
moved to New York City and worked for three years
at the architecture firm York and Sawyer as a draftsman. Though she received excellent evaluations
from her male supervisors, she quickly realized
her opportunities for advancement were limited.
“I was told that a woman was not allowed in the
design studio or on a jobsite,” she recalls. Rather
than throw in the towel, she decided to reinvent
herself as an interior designer and set up her own
shop. She created her company R.K. Lynford and
Company in Oradell, New Jersey. “I used my initials because I didn’t want anyone to know I was a
woman and that I was only 25 years old,” she admits.
She quickly built a successful practice designing
ADVANCE YOUR CAREER IN
AT THE BOSTON
The School of Interior Architecture offers students the
chance to express their creativity and create stunning
and sustainable interior designs. In the BAC’s School
of Interior Architecture, students can earn a Bachelor
of Interior Architecture, Master of Interior Architecture,
and/or a Master of Science in Interior Architecture. These
programs are accredited by the Council for Interior Design
Accreditation (CIDA). Learn more at the-bac.edu/msia or
call 617.585.0123 to request more information.
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