We want to thank former intern and employee Andrea Monteleone for authoring this blog post. Andrea has a BA in History from Marist College and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in history at Binghamton University.
Have you ever strolled through a historic house and found your gaze lingering upon the textiles on display? Our eyes are easily drawn to the intricate patterns, colors, and textures offered by decorative fabrics. You might notice drapes framing windows, and how their colors often enhance the design and feeling of a room, without distracting from the view out of the window. Perhaps the walls of a room are completely covered in fabric. A glance around at these large cuts of fabric may instill a sense of comfort and warmth, or conversely, intimidation and formality. Maybe your attention is drawn to a piece of furniture, such as an upholstered chair or sofa, and you find yourself wanting to know if it is comfortable to sit on. Design historian Margaret Ponsonby has remarked, “Focusing on textiles provides a medium for understanding the meanings that interiors had for their inhabitants in the past and enriches our experience of history in the present.” Indeed, textiles offer present-day staff and visitors to historic houses clues into interior design decisions and how spaces functioned. This often helps us better understand people and cultures of a different time.
Take, for example, an upholstered sofa like this one:
|Chesterfield-style sofa, 2018|