How a 4,000 Year Old Textile Became a Ubiquitous Design Accessory

The block print is a common sight in home design, whether swathing throw pillows, upholstery fabric, or gracing napkins on a tabletop. For all its beauty and popularity, this textile tells a complicated history that spans ages and shows the power of craftsmanship in the face of colonization.

Block printing is thought to have its origins in China over 4,000 years ago, before disseminating throughout Asia and the world. The earliest record of block printing, though, isn’t on fabric but on a book known as the Diamond Sutra, which was printed 300 years before the Gutenberg Bible. The story of India’s journey to becoming the epicenter of block printing, though, is complicated.

the worlds earliest surviving printed book a wood block printed version of the diamond sutra
The worlds earliest surviving printed book: a wood block printed version of the Diamond Sutra, circa 868 AD.

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“The history is patchy,” says Preeti Gopinath, director of the MFA textile program at The New School,

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One year of coronavirus sees surge in home renovations

In normal times, new trends in home design and home decorating bubble up simply because it’s time for something different. A few years of bold color and homeowners start painting things gray. After enough minimalism, a hunger for plaids and florals comes roaring back.

But this time last year, a cultural experiment began that changed our relationships with houses and condos and apartments around the world.

Suddenly, constantly, we were inside them.

So much of public life – work, school, exercise, shopping, dining and (virtually) socializing – began happening entirely within the walls of home, at least for those able to do so.

Architects and interior designers say that after 12 months of varying degrees of lockdown, people are discovering what does and doesn’t work in their homes, and becoming more confident about acting on it. They’re realizing how familiar spaces can serve them better.

“Out of frustration comes

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A homebound year has meant rethinking our rooms, belongings

In normal times, new trends in home design and home decorating bubble up simply because it’s time for something different. A few years of bold color and homeowners start painting things gray. After enough minimalism, a hunger for plaids and florals comes roaring back.

But this time last year, a cultural experiment began that changed our relationships with houses and condos and apartments around the world.

Suddenly, constantly, we were inside them.

So much of public life – work, school, exercise, shopping, dining and (virtually) socializing – began happening entirely within the walls of home, at least for those able to do so.

Architects and interior designers say that after 12 months of varying degrees of lockdown, people are discovering what does and doesn’t work in their homes, and becoming more confident about acting on it. They’re realizing how familiar spaces can serve them better.

“Out of frustration comes brilliant

Read More