A midcentury design history charts the weird course of progress
"How did people sit in the Middle Ages?" It is a remarkable question—disarmingly simple yet potentially sweeping. A precocious child might pose something of the sort to a flustered parent—and the child minder in question would absently wave off the inquiry or simply ignore it.
That's largely been the posture of professional historians when it comes to vernacular kinds of interior design. On the surface, of course, it's easy enough to intuit—through pictorial and material evidence—how medieval Europeans sat. But it's much harder to discern why people sat the way they did, and what, if anything, it meant.
Sigfried Giedion insisted that it meant a great deal; he would have us believe that posture is political. In furniture—and its arrangement—lurk the topographies of social relations. "The sun is mirrored even
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