The Age of Comfort: When Paris Discovered Casual—and the Modern Home Began

Joan DeJean, Author . Bloomsbury $28 (295p) ISBN 978-1-59691-405-6

French cultural historian DeJean presents an entertaining account of how home life was virtually reinvented in Paris from 1670 to 1765 as sofas, running water and flush toilets appeared in modern residences: the city became “a giant workshop in which inventions in the arts and crafts and innovative technologies were tried out.” Louis XIV's and Louis XV's royal mistresses displayed a bold vision for integrating architecture, interior decor and fashion, thus influencing modern comfort. In private mansions, French architects subdivided interior space to allow for varying degrees of privacy. As bathing became a pleasurable, commonplace activity, tubs became more comfortable and were redesigned as decorative objects in their own right. Men fell in love with the superexpensive flush toilet; the sofa—created by the architect Meissonnier—attained instant celebrity status; and interior decoration became a subset of the new architecture of private life as Parisians discovered that domestic interiors should be the expression of their personal taste. DeJean's latest (after The Essence of Style ) is well researched and brimming with anecdotes and architectural and design details. Illus., color insert, b&w photos throughout. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 06/08/2009
Release date: 09/01/2009
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 295 pages - 978-1-60819-230-4
Open Ebook - 304 pages - 978-1-60819-135-2
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