In the fixtures he created for Pompadour, Migeon did at least use a wood then new to France, mahogany, because of its odor-resistant properties. By defining modern architecture as an architecture that delivers comfort, Briseux laid claim to a new territory: henceforth, any project worthy of the name modern would be comfort-driven. The inspiration for so much radical change? Before the early eighteenth century, there was no systematic attempt to document inventions designed to make life easier. In addition, in all areas amazingly high standards—standards easily up to those operative today— were immediately enforced, with the result that, within only a decade or two, designers and craftsmen managed every time to get it just right. Our comfort-driven life is a phenomenon with little precedent in Western history.
The ladies drape their arms over the back, stretch out their legs, tuck up their feet — hardly conventional poses for noblewomen of the 1690s. Shop windows were lit as well, an innovative marketing tool that enticed nocturnal wanderers to come back the next morning to purchase what had glittered behind the glass. And as soon as individuals came into contact with specialized rooms and new conveniences, as soon as they came to believe that much of their lives should take place out of the sight of others, for the first time since antiquity, comfort, cleanliness, and relaxation became widespread priorities in Western life. Many living rooms are still display spaces — designed to showcase, for example, a collection of architect-designed furniture that is hardly intended for casual use. Small tables were the darlings of the eighteenth-century furniture industry; they were intended to be moved around wherever they could prove useful.
As craftsmen invented new tools and techniques for carving or sculpting wood, along with almost all the tricks of modern upholstery, sofas became more sophisticated — and comfortable. In fact, the first period after antiquity when comfort became both desired and possible on anything like a large scale began in Paris in the early 1670s. In the 1670s, the first fauteuils de commodité, or comfort armchairs, were delivered to Versailles. It's a fascinating argument, to show how all these disparate things are linked, and DeJean makes her case very well, though I don't know enough about it to say if she missed anything obvious. Everyone knew the unwritten codes of who was allowed to sit in various circumstances, as well as the type of seating to be assigned to them. Home life, formerly characterized by stiff formality, was revolutionized by the simultaneous introduction of the sofa a radical invitation to recline or converse , the original living rooms, and the very concept of private bedrooms and bathrooms, with far-reaching effects on the way people lived and related to one another. Then, in the first half of the eighteenth century, architects broke with the model of Italian Re naissance architecture and proclaimed themselves modern.
Now, people ask architects for one thing alone: to enjoy all the comfort that money can buy. During the final two decades of the seventeenth century, a double-size armchair was invented. This piece still has its original upholstery, beautifully designed but so skimpily padded that it would not have provided a comfortable seat. V and A Images Settee, side view. I was thinking it would be more of a reference type book but it actually reads like a History book.
Architecture, clothing, and furniture became more casual. The French newspaper with the largest readership in Europe published a supplement, called an extra, to broadcast a news flash: In France today, people only want to live comfortably. With the sofa came many other changes in interior space we now take for granted: private bedrooms, bathrooms, and the original living rooms. Forty years later, the editor of a Dutch periodical reported from Paris that comfort now seems to be the only thing that Parisian women consider when they plan their outfits. There was also the most elegant solution of all: built-in storage— everything from kitchen and dining room cabinets to library shelving and the original medicine cabinets. Lanterns illuminated the streets after dark, creating a midnight-sun effect that encouraged one to venture out in pursuit of nighttime diversions: restaurants, cafés, operas, ballets, and the like.
More than 300 years after Europeans discovered it, the sofa thus remains the one piece of furniture that never simply disappears into the woodwork. DeJean has a entertaining, breezy style that makes the book more fun to read than you might suspect. I had to keep referring back to this picture, for every chapter or so the author would bring out a detail that I never noticed and made the overall portrait so much clearer. Indeed, there was remarkably little furniture in the rooms in which people actually lived. Their residences were known for their splendid façades, huge interior spaces, and showstopping furniture. Rare Book and Manuscript Library University of Pennsylvania A plan for the ground floor of a model home in Paris in the mid-18th century, designed by the architect Jacques François Blondel. Symptomatic of a new age of casualness and comfort, the sofa ushered in an era known as the golden age of conversation; as the first piece of furniture designed for two, it was also considered an invitation to seduction.
The table was designed to facilitate reading, as well as an activity that was then becoming a major part of daily life: letter writing. Definitely an interesting read if its within your area of interest. About The Age of Comfort Today, it is difficult to imagine a living room without a sofa. Fields as diverse as upholstery and plumbing were thrust from the stone age into the modern age: inventions from the sofa to running water to flush toilets appeared in private residences. I received this book for free from the Goodreads first read giveaway. Artists began to depict the way individuals were engaging with redesigned objects, the way in which they used new conveniences.
It was there and then that comfort and informality first emerged as priorities in domains ranging from architecture and fashion to furniture design and interior decoration. Architects and theoreticians such as Jean Courtonne in 1725, Jean Mariette in 1727, and Jacques-François Blondel in 1737 and 1752 trumpeted the news that modern French architecture had invented an art completely unknown to the ancients, the art of making homes comfortable. No one had ever thought of positioning any specialized furniture, such as a night table, near a bed. And in no time at all, it became a commonplace to criticize what had previously been the most fabled monument of French architecture, Versailles, as the least livable and the most uncomfortable palace in Eu rope. The French language had given the world the original modern vocabulary of comfort. Part of this was a reaction to the grand magnificence of Versailles — after a day in a boned bodice that wouldn't let you sit down, surrounded by strict rules of etiquette, who wouldn't want to relax in cozy privacy? It had gilt bronze mounts and was veneered in rosewood with an elaborate marquetry in a violet-tinged wood depicting sprays of flowers. People wanted spaces that were less formal and in which they could feel fully at ease.