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Furniture Beds / 5441 products

The bed  

 Initially an element of portable joinery then a regal piece of furniture, the bed gradually became more private: at that point, functionality and ergonomics began to take precedence, along with the need to take up a minimum of space. The bed has moved around the bedroom somewhat over the centuries, but it has also altered in structure and height: since the end of the '70s, we have seen the adoption of the Japanese-style futon and a new fashion of living and sleeping at floor level.

From portable furniture to regal furniture.
The canopy bed, a four-poster with a canopy fixed to the ceiling to afford privacy and protection from the elements, was a flimsy structure in the Middle Ages, designed for ease of transportation, dismantling and storage when travelling.  A long blanket chest could also serve as a guest bed. This rudimentary frame developed in the 17th century into the "lit à la française", the regal style of bed covered with ornate fabrics. For at that time, the bedroom was a far from private place, being more of a setting for social life. Under Louis XIII, the bed was placed in a corner and became the accepted place for receiving guests and conversing. The wooden frame was entirely hidden by fabric similar to that used for wall hangings, seat covers and tablecloths: this is what developed into today's piece of furniture. Four turned-wood pillars supported the bed canopy, with their bases decorated with plumes. The bed was placed perpendicular to the wall, with the fretworked headboard  decorated with embroidery and braiding. A quilt matching the tablecloth covered the bed, with a fabric-covered base hiding the various stacked mattresses, and pelmeted curtains hung from the canopy to give protection from the cold. So the bed became a valuable piece of furniture, decorated with damask, satin, taffeta, embroidery, lace or fine gold trim.  Under Louis XIV, the bed remained a regal piece of furniture: we know that certain of Louis XIV's audiences took place in the king's bedroom. Around 1660, a new piece of furniture which was to have a long future appeared: the lounge daybed. Adopted by society ladies, it was long and narrow and used only during the day: the lady reclined there to receive guests and converse. While the bed for sleeping was entirely covered with fabric, the daybed showed off its carved wood structure. 

New forms: from beds placed perpendicular to the wall to beds placed along the wall.
At the end of the 17th century the "duchess bed" appeared, with its canopy suspended rather than supported by four columns. Under Louis XV, the "Polish bed" was placed parallel to, in other words along, the wall: its canopy, smaller than the bed itself, had curved columns supporting the upper level. Daybeds such as the chaise longue, the two-part "duchesse brisée", and the sultan were also in fashion, an intrinsic part of the female world and the art of the conversation. For extra comfort, beds with two or three raised sides were often placed in an alcove with curtains to close around them. This type of enclosed bed gave privacy and protection from the cold of the open room, and was popular in the provincial areas of France: it was particularly common in Brittany.

The upholsterer's craft
After the Revolution, the French most often placed the bed along the wall rather than in an alcove: and that is the way it is today. The post-revolution Directory, the Empire and the Restoration all adopted the sleigh-bed, with incurved foot and headboards of equal height. Also inspired by antiquity, there were numerous types of daybed: méridienne faiting couches with sloping backs and unequal-height head and footboards, straight settees, and draped sofas. This was the realm of the upholsterer: beds were surmounted by a baldachin, a crown or star-shaped canopy from which hung curtains. Then came the cabinet fitted with mirrors and the bedside table resembling an old milestone, called a "somno" in French. Under Louis-Philippe, beds continued to be below a baldachin hung with curtains, or in an alcove behind wall hangings. Whereas the homes of the aristocracy had separate quarters for husband and wife, the double bed framed by two bedside tables became the choice of middle-class couples under Napoleon III. In the bedroom, the cabinet with mirror that appeared under the Empire gained a second door. Upholstery made it possible to mask the industrial origins of furniture, to personalise it and to create matching colour and fabric ranges. The bed's structure slimmed down to a wood frame covered with drapes, double curtains or hangings. Art Nouveau, with its undulating lines and its floral marquetry inherited from the 18th century, then Art Déco with its taste for the rarer hardwoods and styles inherited from the Louis XVI era, gave plenty of scope for cabinetmakers: but the composition of the bedroom : 
 double bed or single bed, bedside table, mirrored wardrobe and dressing-table - hardly changed.

An end to decoration
International functionalism put an end to this decorative bedroom. In France, during the International Decorative Arts Exhibition of 1925, the Esprit Nouveau Pavilion of Le Corbusier, Ozenfant and Jeanneret called for standardised production to realise savings while at the same time being practical and taking up minimum space. At the 1926 exhibition, Djo-Bourgeois unveiled his model of the Saint-Clair villa on the Côte d'Azur. Influenced by the principles of the De Stijl group, the bedroom-cum-office was composed of fitted or wall-hung wooden units painted in plain colours, for an interweaving of the various colour schemes. In this way, the horizontal lines of the furniture were integrated into the architecture instead of being superimposed on it, making for ease of movement and giving room to breathe.

Functional and space-saving.
In these days of production lines and the ever-reducing size of urban apartments, the trend is for bunk bedshigh-level sleepers , trundle beds, inflatable beds and the convertible  .  Cots still have the sleigh-bed shape but now also have storage for toys and linen. The '30s saw the arrival of the bookcase bed, uniting a daybed and bookshelves in one piece of furniture, and in the '50s came the foldaway bed, hiding in a cupboard. Finally, the latest mezzanine beds actually make it possible to fully combine bed and office, making the bedroom a place to both sleep and work. Beds with drawers have also become very popular as they provide lots of storage or a second guest bed. The same applies to the multi-use storage beds.

Latest trends
In spite of the continuing need to save space and the popularity of mezzanine beds with their space-saving platforms, the last 30-or-so years has seen a new fashion for sleeping on the floor, Asia style. Futons appeal for their minimalism and come in bamboo, wenge or teak, giving the bedroom an air of authentic craftsmanship and exoticism. Baldachins are also experiencing a comeback, but in a more streamlined version: simple natural wood or iron supports, with the heavy ornate drapes reduced to cotton or linen sheer. They're intended more to fuel your dreams than to keep you warm. Long, narrow daybeds are also popular for their curvy, feminine forms. The chaise-longue is still around in both bedroom and living room, combining traditional styling with new materials.  

Changeable decor
Catering for those who want to ring the changes on a whim or with the seasons, the bed base  with replaceable legs  and separate headboard  is popular nowadays. Whether in finished or unfinished wood, upholstered, fretworked or padded, the bedhead gives added presence to a simple base, creates an ornamental 3D feature on a wall, and can be used to partition a bedroom. A solid wood or leather bed bench  recalls the old shipping trunks, or the 18th century blanket chest when padded or upholstered.It gives added dimension to the bed and somewhere to store books, pillows and bedspreads. Whatever their material or shape, bed legs  can lend style to a simple bed at little cost.

The latest trend takes shape.
Although ergonomics and hygiene have taken precedence for many years now, with Bultex mattresses, waterbed mattresses, sprung and slatted bases and dust-mite-proof fabrics, with some beds incorporating relaxation functions, the importance afforded to the bedlinen, the addition of pillows, drapes and bedspreads, and the use of batik and fake fur quilts, all hark back to the art of the previous centuries. The canopies and the ornate boards of the 17th and 18th centuries, the drapes and the bouillonnés of the 19th century can all be found in today's bedroom: but in a new guise where the fabrics, far from unifying, create new compositions and daring combinations.

References & News

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  • BELIANI Double bed Double beds Furniture Beds  |

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