This spring started with an isolated feeling of a sense of urgency to stay inside our homes to keep healthy – not your typical spring feeling of enjoying the outdoors and the freshness of new beginnings as the grass and trees awaken to a new season. As this health pandemic is taking a strong foothold in our lives, I sat wondering one day about our ancestors and how they pulled through the Spanish Flu or other health outbreaks without the use of modern conveniences.
As I sat looking at my own window coverings as I was pressing the remote to lower my PowerView® roller shade I thought about how window coverings have evolved through history; where did the idea of a blind come to fruition?
The harmful and strong rays of the sun have remained consistent throughout time and ancient civilization would have had to deal with some sort of shading, light control and privacy in the form of a window covering in some archaic manner. Their beginnings can be traced back centuries ago and thought I would share some facts with my peeps.
Historians believe that window coverings were first discovered by the desert civilizations of the cave dwellers. They have been noted to be one of the first civilizations to use some sort of window covering to protect against the heat and dirt. It is said that they used strips of animal hides, membranes, fur or cloth and soaked them in water and hung them in the cave openings. As the breeze blew the cloth or animal hides, it created a cool breeze or almost an air conditioning effect, while also shading the intense heat and light of the desert sun.
This evolved into a more of a natural shade – The Chinese were first noted to create a roll up type of blind that was made by tying together bamboo stalks and the Egyptians used reeds. Their craftsmanship can still be seen today through the evolution of the woven wood roman shades and natural textures of the roller shades. It is easy to visualize them meticulously tying the bamboo or reeds together, thus crafting their window coverings. Fabric Roman shades have evolved from the Romans who used what was plentiful in their environment – you guessed it, linens and cottons.
The Venetian Blind was born sometime between 1100 AD to 1500 AD. Interestingly enough, it was not made in Venice – the Venetian Blind originated in Persia and, in the early 1700’s, Venetian Blinds emerged in Europe – first in Venice, Italy thereby becoming known as Venetian Blinds.
The French used slats of wood stacked together by a cord ladder and they were lowered and raised with this cord. This ingenious idea remains prevalent today as it spread all over Europe in the 1700’s. The first patents on the Venetian Blind were awarded to Gowin Knight and Edward Bevan of England in the late 1700’s. Bevan had the ingenuity to discover that you could manipulate the slats within a frame.
This led to the invention of a tilting mechanism a hundred years later by John Hampson in New Orleans. Venetian blinds were one of the first to be installed in St Peters Church in Rome in the late 1700’s. It has increasingly gained popularity since that time.
The Founding of Hunter Douglas
Fast forward to 1919 and a fellow by the name of Henry Sonnenberg, who founded a machine tool manufacturing company in Germany and then moved it as an operating facility to the Netherlands in 1933. In 1946 Joe Hunter and Sonnenberg joined forces and developed the technology and fabrication of light weight aluminum. It was from this invention that they founded Hunter Douglas as they mass produced these 2” aluminum slats into venetian blinds. As a fun note, the team picked the name Douglas from a phone book when Sonnenberg did not like the sound of his name with Joe Hunter’s last name. Hence the name HUNTER DOUGLAS!
Hunter Douglas Venetian blinds gained huge popularity and Hunter Douglas grew into more than 1,000 fabricators throughout the US and Canada within a few years.
Energy Efficiency & Window Covering Automation
They invented the ever popular energy-efficient Duette Honeycomb in 1985, which is widely available in many textures, opacities and different lift systems such as LiteRise® (cordless) and PowerView® . In 1991, the award-winning Hunter Douglas Silhouette® was launched. It has evolved into a ever popular sheer with an s-curve to diffuse light with fabric vanes that tilt like a venetian blind.
This has led to the invention of the Luminette® Privacy Sheers and the proprietary Hunter Douglas Pirouette® . Hunter Douglas has leading edge technology in operating and lifting systems including the ultraglide and the original Platinum technology with battery powered motorization.
When it comes to safety, Hunter Douglas is constantly improving their child and pet safety guidelines. They continue to enhance their motorization technology to keep up with the increasing demand of savvy, technologically advanced consumers.
Ready to change up a few of your window coverings or need a new fresh look to the outside?