Folding screens were introduced in the late Middle Ages to Europe.In the 17th and 18th centuries, many folding screens were being imported from China to Europe.Especially the French had a certain admiration and desire for the Chinese folding screens, along with the rest of Europe, and they began importing large lacquered folding screens adorned with art.

The famous fashion designer Coco Chanel was an avid collector of Chinese folding screens and is believed to have owned 32 folding screens, of which eight were housed in her apartment at 31 rue Cambon, Paris. She once said: “I’ve loved Chinese screens since I was eighteen years old. I nearly fainted with joy when, entering a Chinese shop, I saw a Coromandel for the first time. Screens were the first thing I bought.”

Folding screens were originally made from wooden panels and painted on lacquered surfaces, eventually folding screens made from paper or silk became popular too.

Although folding screens originated in China, they can now be found in many interior designs throughout the world. Some of the first uses of folding screens were rather practical. They were used to prevent draft in homes, as indicated by the two characters in their Chinese name: píng ( “screen; blocking”) and feng ( “breeze, wind”). They were also used to bestow a sense of privacy; in classical times, folding screens were often placed in rooms to be used as dressing screens for ladies. Folding screens can be set up to partition a large room and change the interior features of the space. Screens may be used as a false wall near the entrance from one room to another to create a desirable atmosphere by hiding certain features like doors to a kitchen. As many folding screens have fine artistic designs and art on them, they can fit well as decorative items in the interior design of a home.

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