Weaver and designer Dorothy Liebes owed much of her success to her ability to create textiles that complemented and enhanced mid-century modern architecture. Using windows to bring the outside in was an integral part of the period’s new design for living. Multiple large windows became a standard feature in new homes, often replacing fireplaces as the focal point of the main room.
Liebes recognized that large expanses of glass posed challenges for interior design, both functionally and aesthetically. During the day, one needed to be able to control the amount of outside light allowed into a room. And, Liebes noted that a beautiful outside view often became nothing more than a depressing “inky abyss” after dark. Appropriate window treatments needed to be easy to open and close, durable, attractive, and well-suited to the character of the room.
Liebes reinvented decorative window blinds and promoted them as a welcome alternative to curtains. She designed both custom blinds, woven in her studio, and mass-produced, commercially-manufactured blinds. Her inventive use of materials and patterning, as seen in this sample, was a signature feature of her designs. Liebes introduced bamboo reeds of varying sizes into the blinds to prevent visual monotony. The reeds were woven together with highly textured yarns, chosen for their weight and scale and often accented by contrasting materials such as shimmering metallics. This approach is exemplified in the sample’s combination of different yarns in blues, taupes, and metallic gold. The reeds themselves could be left a natural color or painted to achieve the desired effect.
Liebes believed that utility and beauty could be—and should be—compatible, saying, “windows [should] be something to look at as well as to look through.” Liebes’s blinds, even when closed, enhance the view from any window.