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The history of how we light our homes and lives can be traced back several hundred years. It not only provides a fascinating insight into the ways in which we have lived, but also how our views on interior design have evolved over time. In the past, the sunset signalled the end of the day and the end of light. Candles and oil lamps were the only way to negotiate the darkness for many years, and lampshades were primarily used in street lamps to direct the light to the dark streets below. Gas light followed, and 17th century Parisian streets made great use of lampshades in not only directing and protecting the light, but also diffusing it.
The first incandescent light bulb was produced in 1879, revolutionising interior lighting and the way in which lampshades were used and created. Initially made of paper, the shades’ primary function was to disperse the light equally throughout the room and protect the eyes from its harsh glare. Under the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901), lampshades took on a new aspect. Instead of simple practical tools, lampshades gained an aesthetic dimension. Victorian shades, with ornate designs and attractive combinations of material, beads, lace and fringe offered families the chance to create a tasteful and refined atmosphere in their homes. To this day, the elegant design of the traditional Victorian lampshade remains popular and there are many imitations available.
At the close of the 19th century, an American artist and designer named Louis Comfort Tiffany began producing lampshades made of stained glass in elaborate patterns. The style, highly distinctive and easily recognisable, is admired the world over and remains a popular choice for creating an elegant atmosphere in a room. Tiffany also used mosaic techniques to create picturesque shades that would not only look pleasing in themselves, but even more so when illuminated by a bulb through the stained glass. The proliferation of electricity and its availability to the common man at the beginning of the 20th century signalled a boom in the popularity of lampshades of all sorts. With more people able to afford lighting in all of the rooms in their house and with a growing desire to create a welcoming and homely atmosphere, the lampshade as an aesthetic and decorative accessory came into its own.
These days, there are countless styles and designs of lampshades to suit every home and mood. Lampshades can be made out of glass, fabric or even paper; held together with a wire frame and normally embellished with beautiful patterns or ornate trim. Our team at Premier Lampshades has been in the lampshade manufacturing business for almost a century, and so understand better than most the importance of the evolution of the lampshade and its current role in creating a better atmosphere in your home. We can help to choose the right lampshade for your needs, restore a tired and lifeless one from history which may have seen better days, or even create an entirely new bespoke design specifically for your needs. Wherever you need the shade, whatever era you wish to recreate, we can bring the history to life with our shades. For more information, see our selection of fabric lampshades or get in touch.
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