Decorative Blinds and Shades
What can be strange about Decorative Blinds and Shades? Though you may assume that these window coverings are a recent entry to interior decor, the fact is they have been in existence for centuries. Starting as a mere functional tool that safeguarded people from direct sunlight, today Decorative Blinds and Shades are style statements for homes and other buildings – besides being highly functional as energy savers and creating complete blackout for even with the brightest daylight, they insulate rooms against extreme temperatures, mute loud sounds, and many more. Here are some strange and amusing facts about blinds and shades:
1. The ancient blinds and shades were, hold your breath!, made of animal hide. Centuries ago people who lived in warmer climates used the animal hides not just to protect themselves from burning sunrays, but also to create a cooling effect in the interiors. The animal hides were soaked in water and hung up on the windows. When the wind struck wet hides, it created a cooling effect inside the room, like natural air coolers. They also provided excellent privacy for the dwellers. The tough maintenance of animal hides forced the discovery of alternatives that were easy to maintain and produce.
2. If I talk about marble window coverings for your windows, you may brush it aside as a futuristic idea. The surprising fact is that marble window coverings were one of the oldest to be discovered and were found in the obliterated city of Pompeii, constructed with slats to divert the sunlight and create coolness. These slats also served the purpose of providing some amount of privacy and protection from inclement weather. The marble slats are believed to have been replaced by wood in later years.
3. Known world over as Venetian Blinds, these window coverings decorating many homes are not Venetian, after all. True, the blinds did not originate in Venice, but were brought there by merchants who carried out trade expeditions with Persia between 1100 and 1500. The Venetian Merchants also brought slaves from Persia to weave the blinds. In the 17th century, when the Persian slaves were freed from Venice, they took the trade to France, with the aim of making some money out of it and for their personal use and comfort. Thus, the French call Venetian blinds as ‘Les Parisiennes’, attributing their origins to Persia. But were the Persians really the real creators of Venetian blinds? The French may be wrong in crediting the Persians with the discovery of this amazing window covering. Well before the time of Christ, the Egyptians used reeds from river banks to craft blinds – the reeds were tied together and hung over windows and doors for privacy and protection from sunlight. The Chinese, Indians, Japanese and other Asians strung bamboo rods together, often split into thin sections, to create blinds. These ancient blinds can be seen in use, even to this day, in rural regions of Asia. The Persians probably borrowed the technique and improved on it to create the blinds which are presently known as the Venetian blinds. The patent, however, belongs to an Englishman Edward Beran. An incredible journey for blinds, indeed!
4. Did you know that using natural shades and blinds reduces carbon dioxide in homes? How astonishing is it to note that these eco-friendly fibers tend to absorb carbon dioxide even after the plants have been cut down and formed into a window covering, doors or any other furniture! Even though technology is progressing in leaps and bounds, there are few materials that can beat wood/natural fiber in being eco-friendly, reducing production costs, and keeping our environment safe. Moreover, natural wooden window coverings are strong and durable while radiating an ambiance of natural warmth.
5. In earlier days, when heavy shades were used to cover windows without any form of air circulation, the window coverings kept the inclement weather out but also trapped, smoke, smells, and unhealthy air inside the room. It was quite an unhealthy environment, harmful to infants and children. A whiff of fresh air was highly welcome in such an environment. This may have led to the rise of phrases like “a breath of fresh air”!
6. With the advent of AC’s and room heaters, the energy bills started to take a toll on income, especially in regions that experience extreme weather. Installing glass windows contributed to this as well. Today, the window coverings are considered for their practical application of saving energy by insulating the room to prevent both heat gain and heat loss. Cellular shades are the best energy saving window coverings due to their honeycomb structure that traps air to create a barrier against heat loss or gain.
7. During the construction of the Great Coliseum, the city of Rome turned very dusty. Though the ancient arena, which was supposed to be a site of the unimaginable entertainment for the Romans, was welcome, it was not easy to deal with the constructions chaos of the massive project. The citizens came up with an idea of hanging damp cloths over their windows and doors to prevent the dust from entering their homes. Later, a retractable canvas was used to shade the spectators in the Coliseum itself. This was the beginning of what is now popularly known as the Roman Shades.
8. Window coverings have undergone immense innovation in the past few decades. One of the oldest patented mechanisms that have remained almost the same through all the changes is the tilt mechanism, patented by American inventor John Hampson, in 1841. Even to this day, the initial patented design is in use due to its efficiency that meets all modern home requirements effectively.
Are Worried about Window Coverings Safety?
9. When people started covering their windows with blinds and shades, no one would have imagined it would take lives of many children and pets in years to come. In North America alone, 140 children have died, and 136 have almost strangled to death due to corded window coverings, between the years 1999 and 2011. On average, one child dies a month by strangulation – horrifying considering it could so easily have been prevented. Blinds manufactured prior to the year 2000 have inner cords which can form a loop in which a child’s neck can entangle, leading to strangulation. The best solution is to go for cordless or motorized window blinds and shades.
When we take our modernity for granted, we’d do well to reflect on the way things have evolved to bring us ceaseless comfort!