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Entries in history (17)


redefined: the doily

photo by: jadis1958 In the 18th and 19th centuries, sofas and chairs were very often durably constructed using labor intensive 8-way hand-tied springs and upholstered in mohair or horse hair. To protect them from greasy hair pomades and hard to clean hard-working hands, intricate lace doilies were placed at the head and arm rests.

And wooden case goods were often heirloom pieces, either as part of a dowry to newlyweds or as an inheritance; so, often crocheted doilies protected their finishes from anything that was placed on them—such as buffet services and dinner plates or perfumes and hair brushes.

Today, eco-friendly FLOR doily tiles reflect our appreciation for the delicate handiwork that created the original pieces of lacework.


redefined: the credenza

photo by: roberto_venturiniSimilar to credence, or belief in Italian, in the Middle Ages credenza was the act of tasting or testing foods and wines so they could be served to a master—with assurance from a credible servant that they were safe to eat.

Later the term referred to the room for this tasting—probably between the kitchen and the dining room—and still later, to the furniture the food was placed on.

Originally waist-high for convenience, with storage cabinets to keep serving utensils and table linens, and often topped with a sheet of marble or a linen runner. Later, fine china and small treasures were protected behind glass doors of taller styles—going up as rooms were made smaller and less communal.

Since furniture has been commercially marketed, they’ve been included in dining room sets so all the pieces match—table, chairs and storage. Now synonymous with a buffet—where all food plates sit cafeteria-style on top of a sideboard, or credenza—this casual style of self-serving a large party versus formal table service for each guest, suits relaxed gatherings in modern, open-plan homes.

So just as formality has relaxed—an engraved invitation can be a simple evite or tweet—credenzas can be used for dining, media or office storage, and mixed with various woods or lacquer finishes.


redefined: telephone poles

photo by: Orin ZebestAs America opened up to the wild west, and later to suburban sprawl, telephones replaced the telegraph and telephone poles laced a vast new interstate highway system and kept us hard-wired for communication.

Today, satellites orbit the earth providing wireless technology—transmitting voice, data, video—and which leaves iconic telephone poles soon to be a thing of the past.

Not only does the telephone coat rack remind us of breezy family road trips with the car windows wide open, roadside picnics and scenic routes, it brings natural wood and concrete elements indoors as a whimsical storage solution.


redefined: the abacus

photo by: tsc_traveler The abacus is typically Asian but references from ancient Rome, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece, Persia, India, Russia, Korea—even Native Americans—exist.

Trade between the two regions may explain the similarity of the Roman and Chinese versions— or it may be pure coincidence that both derived from counting the five fingers on one’s hand— but trade with India and the Middle East in the 1st century A.D. changed everything when the concept of a zero and a decimal point spread.

Replaced by modern calculators performing complex equations, the abacus not only remains a graphic icon—it continues to be manufactured and used to teach numerical systems and basic math.


redefined: the vanity

photo by: LindaHUsed for hundreds of years, dressing tables as a piece of furniture declined in popularity as rooms for toilets and bathing moved inside the house and included cabinets for perfumes and make-up and wardrobes or closets for small accessories; and vanities—which included a large ceramic pitcher and bowl for washing up—became today’s faucet and sink.

Although dressing tables or vanities remained popular in modern homes—until as recently as the 50s and 60s—as time has become a most precious resource, and women spend more time out of the house, more often than not we’re multi-tasking and rushing to get ready. But good storage for our little luxuries will always be necessary, hence, the modern vanity.