The Ultimate Guide to Cushions
Introduction to Cushions
Cushions offer comfort and support when we are relaxing on furniture items like sofas and chairs, but they aren’t just functional – they can dramatically enhance the character and atmosphere of your space, allowing you to make a powerful statement and compliment other objects in your home. There are all sorts of colours, patterns, fabrics and textures to choose from, which means you shouldn’t struggle to find cushions that meet your needs no matter what they are.
How we use cushions
Customers can choose from various types of cushion fillings including feathers and polyester hollow fibre. Although they are normally sat on in indoor environments, they can also be knelt and even slept on. Other terms for cushion include hassock, headrest and bolster. They are also used in external environments, providing protection from hard ground and being used on sun loungers when relaxing outside. Cushions are much softer and smaller than they were back in the middle ages, and are now considered to be items of upholstery rather than furniture. The work ‘cushion’ itself derives from the Middle English word ‘cushin’ as well as other terms from around the world like the Anglo-French term ‘cussin’. It was first used in the 14th century.
The range of cushion styles and materials available to us has widened substantially over the years due to factors like advancements in technology, globalisation and the influence of cultures around the world. Many people opt for authentic-looking cushions that reflect the trends of other countries, even importing cushions from other territories. In the past, cushions were often filled with materials such as reeds and straws, though most products are now filled with man-made or synthetic fibres. There is a seemingly infinite level of variety available to us when it comes to cushion covers, which can be produced from virtually any kind of fabric. Plain and patterned covers are both incredibly popular.
Cushions for outdoor use have grown in popularity substantially over recent years, with many cushions being designed for external use and coming with robust weather-proof or resistant coverings such as PVC. Interior designers are known to be be passionate fans of cushions, frequently depending on them to provide magical finishing touches to the properties that they are working on. Cushions allow you to add an extra touch of magic and personality to your space without spending a fortune.
Cushions through the ages
The history of cushions stretches back centuries and is as rich as it is fascinating. Cushions started life as furniture and were sat on by people further down the household food chain in the Middle Ages. Centuries ago, they were incredibly large and covered by leather. Cushions were even regarded as status symbol generations ago, and the more cushions you had in your home, the wealthier you were assumed to be. Of course, leather is still used in cushions today, but leather cushions are much more comfortable than they were back in the Middle Ages.
The origins of the cushion are said to stretch back to around 7,000 BC in Mesopotamia. During this era, the vast majority of people went about their daily lives experiencing discomfort, which was largely seen as unavoidable, with only the wealthiest people gaining the physical comfort many of us take for granted today. Though there are no remaining cushions from this historical period, art works from the idea give us a clear idea of what they tended to look like. The fabrics and dyes used to manufacture the cushions of the period were incredibly expensive, which is why they were only available to a select few.
Cushions in ancient times
In the Egyptian period, cushions came in the form of stone and wooden headrests for the deceased, which were essentially raised platforms supporting the head. Evidence of these cushions has been sourced within Egyptian tombs. The Greeks and Romans developed the functionalities of the cushion, making them softer, more comfortable and suitable for the living as well as the dead. These cushions were much more similar to the ones that we use today. Cushions for different scenarios were developed, including ones for sleeping and items for relaxing on.
The evolution of the cushion
Over in China, hard cushions and pillows were still being produced during this era, with tough materials like bronze, wood and ceramic being used to manufacture them, with fabric being added in order to soften the items. Some people were still using ceramic cushions in the early 20th century. In Japan, cushions were mainly being used for seating rather than for providing comfort to the head. These large cushions were often placed around various parts of the floor to accommodate guests when socialising and were known as ‘zabuton cushions’. Smaller cushions known as ‘zafus’ were placed on top of the zabutons during meditation.
How the cushion became more affordable
For centuries, cushions and pillows were the preserve of the upper-classes. However, they inevitably became part of the middle-class lifestyle in the 19th century, with the Industrial Revolution making production much more affordable. During this time, the weaving, fabric sourcing and dying processes became remarkably more cost-efficient and the popularity and accessibility of the cushion rose substantially during the Victorian era. Once cushion use became more commonplace, people became more and more experimental, with beanbags becoming an increasingly common sight and cushions making their way into British homes from location such as Asia.
Beautiful, distinctive cushions from Evans Lichfield
Today, Evans Lichfield is a market-leading manufacturer and supplier of luxury cushions in all sorts of designs and styles, made from many different fabrics. We have been making cushions since way back in 1988, with all products being designed and manufactured by our expert creative team in Lichfield. We offer cushions designed to suit all decorative styles, tastes and seasons and are renowned for our attention to detail. We’re supremely confident that we can provide the solution that you require no matter what you are looking for in a cushion.