Blinds; From Egypt And China, To Venice And The Modern World

Today, blinds are used to cover windows in any number of locations. From large corporate business, to the rollers and slat blinds in domestic properties the blind is in many cases the window covering of choice. The word blind is essentially self explanatory; they effectively ‘blind’ those on either side of the window, blocking light and vision. Modern blinds can be adapted to suit nearly any situation. For instance advances in modern manufacturing have meant that some blinds have fantastic heat retaining properties; meaning that they do a great deal to insulate a property during the winter months. Designs now vary greatly, from vertical slats, to fabric covered varieties. Despite this great array of blinds on the market they still have precisely the same purpose, to block out light, keep a property cool in summer and warm in winter.

The history of blinds is a fascinating tale that goes back to some of the earliest civilisations. Understandably these early varieties do not greatly resemble modern variants aesthetically, although their fundamental purpose remains the same. In the ancient civilisations of the desert, cloth was used to cover windows. These cloth coverings however had an added purpose other than just blocking light, in many cases the cloth was wetted before being hung over windows, the result was that the air passing into the building was cooled. Strangely this type of system closely resembles the modern air conditioning unit, albeit in function rather than form.

It is understandable that the desert inhabitants found the first use for blinds, in areas where temperatures reach such summits, a device able to keep the heat of the sun out of properties is a worthwhile invention. Hence it is perfectly viable that the ancient Egyptians regularly created blinds from reeds for this exact purpose. Reeds were the plastics of the Egyptian world, being used for everything from boats to houses; naturally it is logical that their window coverings were made from the same material. The use of blinds however was not purely restricted to the western world, in the Far East, and especially ancient China this form of window covering was extensively used. Materials however differed, as reeds were the wonder material in Egypt, bamboo was in China, hence bamboo blinds were popular; a popularity that continues to this day in many eastern countries.

In Europe however blinds were rarely used to cover windows. During the Middle Ages drapes were hung from windows as a more effective method of keeping the heat in. This was true all across Europe however, on the Mediterranean coast the blind was used extensively. The common Venetian variety are as much a part of Venice as the waterways although it is believed that the origins of this type of blind are found in Persia, probably being brought to Venice by traders in the early Medieval period.

In the modern era the blind became popular during the 1950s when manufacturing advances meant that lighter more durable materials were developed. These varieties however were still relatively cumbersome and noisy and hence were not extensively used in the domestic setting. It was not until the eighties when the widespread use of plastics and aluminium in blind manufacture meant that homeowners were likely to install this form of window covering.

Today with such a wide range of blinds available on the market the interior designer is spoilt for choice. Whether using material, aluminium or plastic the blind is an attractive and practical window covering in many settings.

Cultural expert Thomas Pretty looks into the use of blinds in civilisations throughout history.

Article Source: Blinds; From Egypt And China, To Venice And The Modern World