Blinds have provided shading and privacy to societies around the world for generations. The history of blinds dates back much further than many people realise. Join us on a journey through time as we explore the origins of our beloved shading system, and dive into some key moments in the history of blinds.

Who invented blinds?

It is difficult to pinpoint who invented blinds or the exact date they were invented, but there are various early inceptions which date back thousands of years. Different materials were used as pioneering window treatments. For instance, the Egyptians would gather papyrus reeds from the Nile and position them in front of small windows to prevent the hot air from getting in.

In ancient China, a similar shading solution was developed using bamboo which was tied together and hung above windows to cover them. Despite these early innovations, the Romans are widely credited with inventing the blind.

Roman blinds

Over 2,000 years ago, dust and debris were a byproduct of newly developed roads in ancient Rome. Due to horse-drawn carriages and a lack of pavements, dust would travel through the air and into homes.

Who invented blinds? The history of blinds

To keep dust out, Romans covered windows with pieces of dampened cloth. They quickly discovered that this solution also blocked out the sun and helped to cool their homes.

This innovation quickly gained attention, and Roman blinds started to evolve into what we are familiar with today. Artefacts and research into ancient Rome tell us that decoration was a pillar of ancient Roman culture. It wasn’t long before the damp cloth was transformed into various colours and patterns, and the affluent members of society used more luxurious materials. Over time, drawstring control mechanisms were created to raise and lower blinds and control the level of daylight shading.

The fabric revolution

In the 18th century, textile manufacturing was a crucial driver in the Industrial Revolution, which began in Great Britain. Wool, silk and linen fabrics were primarily superseded by cotton, which became the world’s most important textile. Cotton was much more affordable than other materials, which paved the wave for the mass production of blinds and curtains.

The textile revolution and a blind's history

Blinds were a status symbol

The Industrial Revolution coincides with the Reign of Queen Victoria, a period of luxury and decadence. During this time, wealthy families decorated their homes with brightly coloured blinds and curtains as a status symbol, much like the Romans did.

Decadent house with modern curtains and blinds

The process of dying fabrics was expensive, meaning colourful window shading treatments were only within reach of affluent people. Most people had plain window blinds in colours that were cheap to produce, including blues and dark greens, whilst others displayed their wealth with bright colours like yellow, red and purple.

A breath of fresh air

The blinds used during the Victorian era were thick, heavy and effective in blocking heat. However, they limited the amount of fresh air that travelled through them. Many industry experts argue that “a breath of fresh air” originated from people who would slightly crack open their blinds to ventilate the room during this era.

Venetian blinds didn’t originate in Venice

It’s easy to assume from the name that Venetian blinds originated in Venice. But far from the Italian city, they were first seen in the Middle East between 1100 AD and 1500 AD. Merchants travelled to Persia, now known as Iran, and brought the blinds back to Venice and other parts of Europe. It wasn’t until 1769 that the first patent for a Venetian blind was awarded to an Englishman named Edward Bevan.

Modern blinds

Roller blinds greatly resemble Roman blinds that developed thousands of years ago, with the addition of a barrel for the fabric. Roller blinds originated in the early 18th century, becoming popular in Holland, France and England.

Some modern blinds have a much shorter history than Roman and Venetian blinds. For instance, vertical blinds were invented by Edward and Frederick Bopp in 1950. Electric blinds are also a recent addition to the wide range of blinds available, and we’re sure the evolution of blinds isn’t over yet.

Summary

We hope you’ve enjoyed this trip through the history of blinds. Today, customers can choose from an extensive range of blind types: roller blinds, cassette blinds, vertical blinds, blackout blinds and Venetian blinds. Fabrics can be produced in every colour possible, and specially treated fabrics provide additional benefits including solar shading and thermal insulation.

To speak to an expert about your shading requirements, please click here.