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The History And Development Of Blinds

Sep 10, 2008
Blinds are an increasingly popular form of window covering in the world of interior design. But what is the history behind this interesting way to block the light and create privacy? Essentially blinds are named because of what they do; they effectively blind the viewer of the scene outside the window while limiting any viewing of the interior by anyone outside.

In the modern world different varieties of blinds have been developed for use in a range of disparate situations. Part of this is due to improvements in the technology used in construction and a changing in the materials used in blind manufacture. Thanks to these developments blinds can be used to completely block out light and heat from the summer sun whilst keeping in the heat during winter months. Naturally differences in design and materials determine how a blind will be used. Fundamentally however, they remain as a method of covering windows and restricting the field of vision for those inside and outside of a building.

The use of blinds has been evident for centuries; naturally early variants do not greatly resemble modern types but in effect carried out the same purpose. In the ancient world it is believed that some desert inhabitants used to wet sheets of cloth for the purpose of hanging them over windows; as the air passed through the sheets they effectively cooled the interior of the building. These early uses in some ways resemble modern air conditioning units; they are just less technologically developed.

The ancient Egyptians also used blinds in their homes and administrative buildings. As with many items in the Egyptian world reeds were used. The reeds would be strung together and then hung from the tops of windows to create an effective window covering that would prevent prying eyes from looking in while keeping the fierce sun out and letting air into the home. The use of blinds even in the ancient world was widespread. In the Far East, Chinese homes used bamboo in blind manufacture much in the same way as the Egyptians, in many places in the East, this form of window covering is still used today.

In Europe the Middle Ages brought developments in the manufacturing of cloths and textiles. This was important as in Europe the climate was far colder and hence the use of reeds or bamboo could not create the same amount of insulation as heavy cloths.

While many blinds today are referred to as Venetian, it is a common misconception that this is where this type of blind originated. Scholarly research has discovered that these blinds were in fact invented in Persia and were brought to the homes of Venice by the traders that made the city such a powerful entity. Naturally from Venice this variety of blind spread to other parts of Europe such as Paris. The popularity of this form of window covering grew steadily being included in artwork and adorning the most opulent and luxurious houses in Venice and beyond.

The blind continued to be used from this time on until the 1950s when manufacturing and metalworking improvements meant that the slats were constructed from thin metal. These early modern blinds however were often cumbersome and noisy and hence did not prove popular with most homeowners. In the eighties another manufacturing development, this time in the field of plastics meant that the slats could be constructed from vinyl. This made blinds cheaper and easier to use and from this point onwards their use spread rapidly.

Today blinds come in all manner of different designs and varieties; from plastic and metal Venetian types to fabric roman shades and vertical hanging floor to ceiling blinds. It is thanks to the wide selection available on the market that their use has become widespread in residential, commercial and industrial buildings, making them the interior designer's window covering of choice.
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