Design Under the Influence: The History of Plaid and Tartan

Happy Fall! It’s Erika from small shop, and for this edition of “Design Under the Influence” I thought I’d pay tribute not only to Paloma’s vacay to the UK, but also to the cooler days ahead with a little post about the history of plaid and tartan, and how to use it in a modern way.
Although plaid (North America) or tartan (elsewhere) has been around since the 8th to 6th centuries B.C. in Central Europe, it did not arrive in Scotland until the 16th century. In the 17th and 18th centuries, certain patterns were associated with different regions of the Highlands and Isles because of availability/weavers in each area. The documentation of the various patterns is in part due to textile manufacturer Bannockburn who recorded over 200 genuine patterns by 1822 — an important year that marked the visit of King George IV to Scotland. It wasn’t until this time that tartan became the national dress of all of Scotland, and individual clans and families began to align with a particular pattern.
I thought it was interesting to learn that “plaid” is actually derived from the Scottish Gaelic word plaide, which means “blanket.” And although we’ve seen it used as blankets and throws, wallpaper, bedding and upholstery in traditional, formal settings, it’s more endearing to me when mixed with modern pieces and in contemporary spaces, used in unexpected ways or mixed with other patterns…
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Domino
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Do you use plaid in your decor?

5 thoughts on “Design Under the Influence: The History of Plaid and Tartan

  1. Being Scottish I absolutely love tartan (as i call it!) and have a fabulous Harris Tweed tartan cushion in my living room. If the room were bigger I’d definitely have a whole lot more ūüôā

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