A Brief, Complete History of Venetian Blinds
Despite often being referred to as Venetian blinds, horizontal blinds did not originate in Venice, Italy.
History of Venetian Blinds (Horizontal Blinds)
Let’s be honest. Today, most of us take our window coverings for granted, but there was a time when light control and privacy weren’t all that common. There was a time before blinds. And while you may not want to imagine a time where the morning sun would bathe you in light in the wee hours of the morning (thank goodness for blackout shades), we thought it would be fun to look back at the history of our favorite invention – horizontal blinds.
Where Did Venetian Blinds Get Their Start?
Despite often being referred to as Venetian blinds, horizontal blinds did not originate in Venice, Italy – though the spread of these wonderful window treatments throughout Europe if often credited to the Venetians. It was actually the Persians who first developed the familiar slatted blinds we all know and love. While the Chinese and Egyptians were covering their windows with shades crafted by tying bamboo and reeds together respectively, these new horizontal slatted blinds quickly grew in popularity because of their advanced light control and functionality. And thanks to the Venetians, horizontal window blinds spreading rapidly throughout the largest cities in Europe, including Paris, France and London, England. In fact, the French still refer to Venetian blinds as “Les Persienes,” in honor of the window treatment’s Persian origins.
By the late 18th century, Venetian blinds had even made their way to the United States. John Webster was the first to introduce these window treatments in the U.S., selling wooden Venetian blinds from his upholstery shop in Philadelphia in 1767. They were an immediate hit with the high society in America. Before long, Venetian blinds were installed in many government and public office buildings. These window treatments can even be seen in the background of J. L. Jerome’s painting, “The Visit of Paul Jones to the Constitutional Convention.” And in the 1930s, Rockefeller Center’s RCA Building became the first large modern building in the US to adopt horizontal blinds.
Key Dates in Venetian Blind History
- 1757: A French craftsman advertised blinds with adjustable slats.
- 1769: Englishman Edward Bevan patented the first Venetian blind.
- 1841: American John Hampson invented a mechanism for controlling the angle of the horizontal slats. Nearly all blinds hanging today operate using Hampson’s invention.
- 1936: Aluminum Venetian blinds were introduced by Kirsch.
- 2016: These window treatments remain as popular as ever.