The History of Window Blinds

Windows blinds are one of the most commonplace objects in our world. Homes and offices have them, and the window treatment market is filled with an endless array of styles to pick from. They are the unsung heroes of domestic comfort providing style, privacy, and eye squinting protection all at once. So where did these stylish shields come from? What genius mind developed the idea and brought it to life? You may be surprised to find that window blinds have a fairly ancient history.


The beginning of blinds can be traced all the way back to ancient desert civilizations who used wet strips of cloth to cover the windows of their huts. This was also the first form of air conditioning. This practice was eventually picked up by Egyptians who were sun worshipers, but not very fond of its blinding powers. However, they modified the technique to use reeds from the Nile River, a much more abundant resource than cloth. They laid the reeds side by side, tie them to form mats, and then hang them over windows. They could even be raised and lowered, they way we use roller shade today. These ancient window blinds can still be found to this day! Not only were these used in homes and places of business, but also to shield the pharaoh from the sun’s distracting rays. The ancient Chinese on the other hand used bamboo, a much sturdier material. Much like the reeds, these were tied together to create roller blinds. Romans also invented their own type of window blind using primarily fabric, these are still a popular option in the modern day.


A bit later down in history between 1100 and 1500 A.D., Venice merchants saw a type of window covering in Persia similar to the venetian styles that exist today. They brought the idea back to their homeland in Venice, where they were likely produced by Persian slaves. Then during the Middle Ages, these former slaves eventually migrated to France and began to make Venetian blinds there. It is interesting to note that in France they refer to their true origins in Persia by calling them “les persiennes.” The Spanish also do this by calling this type of blind “las persianas.” All of these early versions of the Venetian blind were made of strips of cloth connected together by strings so that they could be raised and lowered like modern-day Venetian blinds. By 1750, it had become very stylish all over Europe in cities such as Paris to have this fancy window treatment in all the best homes. It was a sign of high status. This type of blind can be seen all throughout history, and has even been captured by artists in numerous paintings. Eventually in 1769, an Englishman named Edward Bevan was awarded the first patent for Venetian blinds. He realized you could place wooden slats in a frame and control the slats one way or the other to allow a certain amount light into a room. Then in 1841 John Hampson of New Orleans made modifications to the invention by adding the ability to change the angle of the horizontal slats, thus paving the way for the blinds we know and love today.


There you have it! A history of window blinds to give you a whole new appreciation for their subtle innovative beauty. When the time comes to add new shades to your space, truly think about the vast variety available to you. Each style comes with its own story of resourcefulness and creativity. Figure out which one speaks to your heart’s style desires, and if you need help to ponder the options, feel free to give us a call. We will bring samples, fabric and color options so you can see what the treatments will look like in your home or place of business. Let our in home services help take the guesswork out of deciding the best solution for your window treatment needs.