The History Behind the Room Divider Screen
The origin of decorative room divider screens can be traced back to 7th-century China. These screens were typically composed of six to eight panels and were renowned for their intricate lacquer work. The art of lacquer application has been passed down through generations, with some traditional techniques still utilized today. Two prominent methods used to create decorative room divider screens are Naciju and Coromandel. Naciju involves a meticulous process of applying up to thirty layers of lacquer, incorporating gold leaf at different levels. On the other hand, the Coromandel technique entails covering wooden screens with clay, sculpting it to produce a textured surface, and then adorning it with multiple layers of lacquer, gold or silver leaf, and painted designs. The end result is a captivating artwork with a three-dimensional effect.
Introduction in Europe
It is believed that decorative folding room divider screens were introduced to Italy by Marco Polo upon his return from China. These screens quickly gained popularity in Europe due to their beauty, practicality, and ease of replication. Initially, the screens used in European castles were unadorned and plain, consisting of rough planks that added warmth to the cold stone interiors. It took several centuries for the concept of embellishing screens to gain traction.
During the 17th century, Europeans began to appreciate the dual functionality of decorative room divider screens. Within the aristocratic society, these screens became objects of admiration and highly sought-after collectibles. Given their high cost, only the wealthiest individuals could afford to possess them. Thus, decorative screens became a staple in noble households during this period.
Revivals and Modern Use
The popularity of decorative room dividers has experienced numerous revivals throughout history. With each resurgence, people have treasured screens from the past while also creating new and exciting designs. As each revival occurs, the functionality of room divider screens evolves, as people conceive of more diverse applications for these exquisite works of art.
In today’s world, decorative room divider screens have witnessed a resurgence in popularity, thanks to the rise of open-plan living spaces, loft-style apartments, and the need to maximize limited space. People are once again recognizing the practicality of room dividers. Moreover, as the use of these screens has increased, people now seek them not just for their functionality but also for their aesthetic appeal. They have become the perfect accent piece for contemporary homes, adding a touch of elegance and style.