Apartments: then and now

It’s a quiet (finally!) and sunny Friday. So, what better way of spending it than writing about material culture (given that I spend a couple of hours a week talking to students about it). As I was coming home one day I noticed a ground floor flat with its curtains drawn and the “typical” apartment furniture and decorations- typical as in characteristic for the decorations/furniture in the communist era. Therefore, I thought I should draw a list of 5 pieces which one could find in our grandparents/parents flats and which will definitely not be found in my flat. As V. Buchli and other researchers nicely point out, the change in material culture comes with a change in habits and ways of inhabiting the space and representing ones status and identity. However, I am not gonna enter an anthropological-sociological discussion, and I’ll simply draw the facts [to be noted that I do not intend to mock any taste, just to highlight a change in fashion, which equals to a change in material culture]


1. The curtain. Not any type of curtain, but the flowery-lacy type (you can not believe how hard it was to find a picture on the internet, even though most people have/had one). There was also the “posh” version- curtain+drapery.

2. The Glass case. A respectable family would have in the living room (in 18 square meters at most usually): a bookcase, a sofa, armchairs  (sometimes even a 6 persons dining table with the appropriate chairs), and the glass case (sometimes the bookcase played this role, by having a glass windows section). In this case, all the “objects of art” were stored and displayed- a must would have been the ballerina statuette, the 4 seasons/shepherds, dogs, various cups and glasses, and in the early 90s the “seated Chinese man” appeared, along with Chinese vases).


3. The Doily. One could never have too many doilies seems to be the motto of many flats: on tables (to protect the veneer), side tables, in the glass case and, of course, on top of the TV set 🙂


4. The wooden sofa in the kitchen. That wooden sofa that would cover a corner of the kitchen, part of a set with a “rustic style” table, chairs and cushions…


5. The chandelier. The one you would constantly bump into as the ceiling was not high enough.


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