No one likes to struggle to find the answer to a question, so it's a good job we're pretty knowledgeable in all things blinds. The even better thing is that we've decided to share our knowledge in our hub- If it's not here then it's not worth knowing.
Have you ever looked at a product or something in your home and think ‘Who came up with that?’, ‘How did they make these 100 years ago? – and the most important – ‘How did people install blinds without electric drills’?!
Have you ever looked at a product or something in your home and think ‘Who came up with that?’, ‘How did they make these 100 years ago? – and the most important – ‘How did people install blinds without electric drills’?! (We've tried and it's not impossible, but takes wayyyyy longer).
No, never had this thought process? Fair enough, it is a bit of a unique, but as we love blinds (in a non-weird way), we thought we would do a quick history of blinds for those of you interested in the history of internal window coverings. It's pretty niche.
But if you answered yes to any of those questions then you’re like us – after a recent walk around the production area and looking at all the machines, we thought how hard or time consuming it must have been for people in years gone by to make intricate wooden blinds, wooden Venetians or create patterns on roller blinds. So we thought we would do a bit of research into the history of blinds and see how they have developed and changed over time. We all know that buying blinds now is super quick and easy, and with a few screws, you’ll have a beautiful window covering in no time. But did you know that the earliest type of blind was fashioned way back before the Ancient Egyptians, back when people lived in small tribes spread across the desert.
Desert People/ Civilisations.
As you can imagine – living in the middle of a desert, with searing hot sun and pesky sandstorms, people needed a way to protect themselves from the sun and flying sand during the day. The earliest and most basic form of blinds would have been a single piece of cloth hung over the doorways and window openings. These sheets would have blocked the midday sun and shielded their homes from dust and sand. Practically this doesn’t sound too bad, but pretty poor from a design and style point of view.
Thankfully we know quite a lot about the Ancient Egyptians, including how they covered their windows. Alongside using cloth sheets over their windows, the Egyptians used reeds which were rolled up and placed into mats. The ancient blinds were believed to be “narrow strips of palm-ribs of equal length bound together at the edges using woven cords (Omm Sety, 2008). This type of blind is similar to our modern day Venetian blinds and could be rolled down to cover doorways and windows whilst allowing a breeze to flow through. They also gave the occupants privacy and blocked the sun. When they were not in use these blinds could be rolled back up and out of the way.
This forward-thinking way of covering a window gave the Egyptians everything that we look for in a blind in today’s world – privacy, practicality, flexibility and the ability to block the sun. A big improvement on just a piece of cloth, but I bet they were limited in colour options...
Around the same time as the Ancient Egyptians, the ancient Chinese civilisation used thin strips of bamboo as a roller blind. Bamboo was rolled up into a mat and woven cords, similar to the ancient Egyptians. These bamboo blinds would have been used to control the light entering the room and in turn blocking the heat from passing through, like our modern day blinds – and those of the Egyptians, these blinds also gave the occupants privacy. The bamboo blinds could then have been rolled up when not in use and fastened, similar to the ancient Egyptian window coverings.
Bamboo blinds are still used today, although not as popular as they were 20 years ago, there is a small resurgence at the moment as they are very environmentally friendly. These blinds are natural, beautiful and elegant to look at. Additionally, bamboo is extremely durable and can withstand the humidity and high heats that the Asian climate throws at them. Slightly less of a problem here in the UK.
The Romans have left us with 1000’s of relics from their reign, everything from Roman roads, Aqueducts, gladiator fights through to Roman Blinds. The Romans also needed a way to block the dust from entering their homes, shade them from the Mediterranean sun (all the good window covering ideas seem to come from warmer climates) and give their homes some privacy. Starting off like earlier civilisations, the Romans covered their windows with strips of fabric and over time developed them into more ornate and intricate blinds. These are now known by the name ‘Roman Blinds’ and are made from a thicker, curtain-like material. The Romans were the first to pull the fabric back upon itself rather than use strips of wood to create a Venetian blind like the Chinese and Egyptians. You can see our range of Roman blinds here.
Seeing as we have already seen how the Ancient Egyptians and the Chinese created the first Venetian style blind, why are they not named ‘Egyptian blinds’ or ‘Chinese Blinds’? Well, the modern-day Venetian blinds that we would recognize were created in 1794 in Venice, Italy. These were likely copied from blinds that the Persians were using, but with the Venetians being merchants, they were the ones to spread the blind style across Europe and put their name to them. These blinds were used instead of curtains, drapes or external shutters which were also popular at the time. Originally these blinds were created with cotton tapes running the length of the slats, and it wasn’t until 1966 that a new design for the pulley mechanism was created that also gave the user control over the tilt of the slats. Now Venetians are made from everything including Wood, Aluminium and PVC in a huge range of colours and choices.
Despite blinds being around for 1000’s of years in one form or another, it’s only been in the past 100-200 years that blinds have become a staple of people’s homes. The first roller shades or roller blinds are believed to have existed since the seventeenth century, but this is had to verify. But what is widely known is that blinds were much more commonplace in homes across England, France and Holland by the eighteenth century. This coincides with the industrial revolution and with cloth being more affordable, alongside a rise in living standards, blinds and home furnishings finally became something most people could afford in their home.
Now with the rise of the internet and shopping at home, blinds can be bought online and made to your exact size and specification. With 100’s of colours and fabrics to choose from -everything from plain colours, pattern fabrics, dim out, voile and blackout materials, blinds made from wood, PVC, aluminium… there’s never been a time where so many options have been available at the touch of a button...saying that there are also now some pretty good motorised blinds on the market, and the current ultimate set up (in our opinion) is a solar-powered motor inside the roller blind tube, trickle charging the battery 365 days a year, connected to either a wireless remote or connected to your smart speaker. These blinds can be pre-programmed on timers to raise and lower at set times, be voice activated or even controlled via an app on your phone. Seems that we've come a long way from just hanging a piece of cloth over a window to keep the dust out.