• Daniel Newton

Venetian Blinds

As a 'window blind nerd,' the first blog has to focus on the Venetian Blind. The subject has so much history it is hard not to be captivated (at least for a Window Shade nerd like myself).

If we are going to start at the beginning, let's start with the myth. The original story, told by both historians and window treatment enthusiasts, was that Marco Polo brought the concept of the Venetian Blinds back to Venice from China. This claim has been rejected. Marco Pollo was an explorer in the late 1200s; the European debut of Venetian blinds didn't come until the 1700s. This seems like an unexplainable long period. The second reason is there is no mention of Venetian Blinds or a product that could describe a Venetian Blind in any of Marco Pollo's journals.

The idea of a window Blind with slats dates back to ancient Egypt or Pompei. These Blinds, however, had fixed slats that didn't tilt. The common Venetian Blind is believed to have originated in Persia. While the English call them Venetian Blinds, in Italy, they are known as Periana, and in France, Jalousie a la persienne. A rough translation to the French term being Jealousy of the louvre.

It was 1757 when a French craftsman advertised blinds with Adjustable slats. By the late 1700s, they were common in wealthier houses, shops, churches and government buildings throughout England and their colonies. Slats were constructed from wood and stained to specific requirements. In 1841 John Hampson invented a mechanism for angling the slats of Venetian Blinds. This mechanism we now call the tilter. 1936 saw the first aluminium Venetian Blind. Aluminium Venetian Blinds were more durable and significantly lighter than the timber Venetian alternatives. Shortly after, Hunter Douglas, a building material manufacturer, started mass production of the products distributed through thousands of companies worldwide. The machine that formed, cut and punched the cord holes in the aluminium stats was called the Hunter B machine. The writer remembers using one of these through the 1990s and into the early 2000s.

Since the 1930s, we have seen product trends in popular blade sizes shift from 50mm to 35mm in the early 1980s. By the late '80s, this went narrower to 25mm. In the '90s, this got narrower again to 16mm. The late '90s saw the return of the timber Venetian Blind in 25mm and 50mm widths. By the start of the 21st century, the 16mm aluminium Venetian Blind had become virtually obsolete. The 25mm timber Venetian Blind became obsolete soon after. We are now seeing blades getting wider. The 50mm aluminium Venetian has come back into fashion. Timber Venetian Blinds now come in 50mm and 60mm widths. Composite timber Venetian Blinds go as wide as 63mm, and Window Shutters are growing in popularity, primarily due to the ability to come in 89mm and 116mm louvre widths.

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