Almost as long as there have been buildings of any kind, there have been windows. And as long as there have been windows, there have been window coverings. Whether they were used to block light and heat, or keep out the cold, window coverings have changed a lot over time. Here you can learn how and where they started, and how they've evolved.
The first known window coverings were curtains made from animal hides in Egypt in 3100 B.C. Not long later, curtains were woven from linen or flax, and then silk, wool, and cotton. Woven curtains were more flexible and practical. Simple woven curtains were used throughout the Middle East and the Mediterranean.
As glass grew in availability during the late Renaissance, curtains became more widespread to allow for privacy. Then, in the eighteenth century, curtains styles from China, that had beautifully detailed designs and pictures, began to make their way to Western society. With the introduction of machinery in the 19th century, curtains were faster and easier to make than ever before.
Before there was glass in windows there were also shutters. Wooden shutters were made in the late 1500s. Originally, when buildings were made with thick walls of stone, shutters were attached to the inner walls. Later, when more houses were more often built from wood, in the late 1800s, shutters were attached to the outside of the house.
Along with the curtains previously mentioned, Egyptians also had blinds made of reeds. Similar ones were used in ancient China made from bamboo. Reeds or bamboo would be strung together into rolls that would be placed over windows.
Wooden blinds were first patented in 1769 by a man named Edward Bevan. He realized that you could place wooden slats at an angle in a frame to let in light. These were known as Venetian blinds because he first created them in Venice Italy. Venetian blinds quickly spread throughout the world and are very similar to the ones we used today.
Then in 1841 window blinds made another advancement at the hands of John Hampson. He made it so that the wooden slats could be adjusted to open and close. Nowadays blinds are more convenient than ever. Not only can they be pulled up or down, and closed and opened, but they can be controlled by our phones.
By far the most advanced window covering is smart glass. It is quickly gaining in popularity and availability. Smart glass is made using film that can go from clear, to shaded, to opaque. This film can be added over existing glass and can also block out different types of light waves.
Smart glass can also be manufactured with this film between two layers of glass. This method ensures that the film won't bubble or buckle, and dirt and dust won't become trapped beneath it.
Window coverings have been around for thousands of years and gone through a lot of changes. Through all of these developments, they have become more efficient. With how far they've come, it's hard to say if window coverings can be improved upon even further. Only time will tell what they will be like next.