I must admit I have only recently become a convert to the luxury that is bed hangings. I have always appreciated them visually, and have certainly done them for clients, but i have never fully grasped what its like to actually SLEEP in them. I was recently the house guest at a former client's and was lucky enough to be assigned the guest room with the bed hangings I had designed. Let me tell you what a feeling of sheer bliss that can be! The psychological comfort of being enveloped by yards and yards of material is unparalleled.
Of course today, bed hangings are purely aesthetic, but in the 16th century they were essential. In fact, the earliest incarnations were beds of common people seeking an additional layer of shelter from lack of insulation and a thatched roof. Canopy beds with curtains that could completely enclose the bed were also used by European noblemen for warmth and privacy, as their attendants often slept in the same room. The two images below, were produced 200 years apart however the similarities are shocking. I love the way David Hicks floated the bed in the middle of the room.
The iconic photo above is by preeminent designer Rose Cummings from the 1930's. Although technically a lit a la polonaise this was considered very avant garde at the time. Is it me or do these bed hangings bare a striking resemblance to the curtains in Miles Redd's living room?
I know, I know, the John Dickinson bed above is a tad off subject, but really, how fab is that?! The bed completely fills the volume of the room in what is an otherwise small room. It reminds me of my favorite canopy bed that I worked on as Design Director for 'Mr. Man'. The client's bedroom was a double height space which can be an uncomfortable scale in which to sleep. To bring it down to a more human proportion, we created "a room within a room" with a fourteen foot high canopy bed, similar to that above only with the addition of a tester and bed hangings. A truly magnificent sight. I would love to be able to share the image with you, but alas it has recently been shot for Elle Decor, so i guess you will need to wait till it hits the stand.