Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Age of Comfort

For those who have been patiently waiting for a new book, you may soon be rewarded. Scheduled for release on September 15, The Age of Comfort: When Paris Disvcovered Casual—And the Modern Home Began sounds like it might be just the book for those of us who are craving a good francophile read.

An article in yesterday's New York Times features a brief interview with the book's author, Joan DeJean and the following review is from
Publishers Weekly:

"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."

If you are interested in French history and culture you have to be tempted, n'est ce pas?

Bon weekend!


  1. You're right, Annecy. I am tempted! Thanks for sharing this; I might've missed it otherwise. Have you read DeJean's other book on French style? It's so fab.

  2. I didn't know about this book until your post and it is SO amazing! I am super excited to read it and have ordered my copy! I have been obsessed with furniture my whole life, and the culture that surrounds the design and sometimes, function. Most furniture until the modern era, was utilitarian, with one or several specific functions. For instance, did you know the wingback chair was designed to keep the sitter from feeling cold drafts, hence the wings- this being before central heating was invented.
    Just one more reason I need to subscribe to the NYT!
    Thanks so much Amigh! LOVE THIS!

  3. I'm officially tempted! I will definitely want to read this. It looks to be very interesting and I like learning about things like this.

  4. Yes, we all MUST buy this book she is fabulous. She wrote one of my favorite books, "The Essence of Style." She's an intellectual, academic, teaches at the University of Pennsylvania, has a degree from Yale and makes history come alive.

    She amazes us, teaches and all the while we enjoy the journey every word of the way.

  5. I am reading this book now and it is absolutely fabulous!! Ms. DeJean is my new favorite author.