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Flexible room dividers

Screens are on-trend objects making a comeback

Thanks to the home office trend and the popularity of hygge, more and more people value a comfortable yet functional interior design. Developments in interiors show that the home has become multifunctional with different zones for work, working out and relaxing. Here room dividers are ideal for creating a spatial separation between personal and professional life.

Minima Moralia" Screen by Dante Goods and Bads

Screens, such as the sought-after Minima Moralia, designed by Christophe de la Fontaine for Dante – Goods and Bads, have proved highly popular at furniture trade fairs for some years. They are increasingly important in interior design. (Photo: Dante – Goods and Bads)

Where do room dividers come from?

For some years, growing numbers of them have been appearing as design objects at furniture trade fairs across the world: screens – such as the sought-after Minima Moralia by Christophe de la Fontaine for Dante – Goods and Bads . A peek into the history of this multitalented item of furniture explains the recent surge in its popularity.

Folding screens originally come from China. But they are known across the globe, which is why they are also associated with other cultures, including Japan, Spain and France. In Chinese, they are called píng fēng, which literally means “wind blocker”. The name reveals how screens were originally used: The very earliest examples date back to the times of the Han dynasty, between 206 BC and AD 220. Wind screens were also popular in Japan, where they were employed in exactly the same function.

However, the design of screens varies considerably depending on the culture. When room dividers arrived in Europe, they were a real hit in royal and noble households in France. They fitted in brilliantly with the opulent furniture and elaborate decor. The secret of their success: their flexibility.

Today, we often see portable partitions in doctors’ surgeries, massage treatment rooms and offices as well as restaurants with outdoor seating. They provide privacy and act as a noise barrier, so it’s no wonder that room dividers have become a firm fixture in home interior design, too. They offer numerous possibilities for zoning spaces. And even as merely decorative objects, they are stunning, eye-catching features.

ISOLA Partitions" room divider by Manade

The pure, minimalist aesthetic of the Isola Partitions by Manade lends a functional sobriety to the interior design of open spaces. The partitions can be used flexibly and arranged in multiple different ways thanks to their modularity. (Photo: Manade)

Materials: from wood to velvet

The first room dividers from Asia were made from natural materials such as wood or paper. Wood is still often used today. The manufacturer Kikuchi Gohan Mokko, for instance, adopts a traditional design for its Japan Art Screens , a product ideally combined with pale wooden furniture, white walls and plenty of green plants. This shows the screen design to its best advantage.

Slightly more purist and in a natural style is the striking Tosai Screen by Conde House. The screen is made from wooden bars and supporting steel elements. The natural materials lend it an air of simplicity, making it an ideal feature in any interior design. Positioned alongside a home office as a partition, it can create a snug seating corner.

Less simple, but no less beautiful, are room dividers made from heavy fabrics, such as velvet or brocade. Such screens could often be found in France, where it was custom to adorn them with artistic paintings. Today, heavy fabrics paired with dark shades are an extremely popular choice. A room divider is the perfect addition to this look.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, room dividers can be purely functional. They appear in offices as unobtrusive noise absorbers made from fleece or other upholstery fabrics. The Isola Partitions by Manade are a beautiful example of this minimalist aesthetic.

Nomad System Screen by Mio Furniture Company Limited

The Nomad System by MIO Culture is a modular, free-standing space divider that can be configured into screens for electronic media, partitions, displays or even rooms. (Photo: MIO Culture)

Modular, sustainable and unique

Decorative room divider or practical interior design object – the functions screens fulfil are as varied as their designs. Those with a penchant for organic shapes can take their inspiration from the Curvy Room Divider by Gustaf Westman. Similarly playful is the Nomad System Room Divider by MIO Culture. Here the classic dividing element is split into many small modules, which can be positioned anywhere in the room as free-standing objects in closed or open configurations. This makes the modular room divider perfect for living rooms, bedrooms, lofts and offices.

For many people, it is important to use natural materials. Products made from materials such as conserved moss are one way to meet this desire. The Forest Moss Walls by Wertykalni are well ahead when it comes to sustainability. Not only do they look stunning, but they are also extremely durable due to the special stabilisation process they undergo. No care or watering is required. The HEY-SIGN Room Dividers by the manufacturer of the same name have a similarly green design and impress with their innovative modules. The modular interior partitions are equipped with adapters, which can join multiple objects in T- or cross-shapes.

Room dividers: future all-rounders

The use of screens is increasing considerably. Many people want to combine personal and work furniture as harmoniously as possible in their homes. And, of course, it should feel snug and cosy, too. This is exactly the kind of ambience that room dividers can foster. They can be decorative or functional, and in some cases, modular and sustainable, too.

The latest innovative designs already show what can be achieved with a simple folding screen. More concepts are sure to be developed – and further possibilities for the home office are likely to be among them. In tiny spaces or large rooms, screens can be used almost anywhere.

Discover more new interior trends – and the latest screens – at imm cologne 2022. Secure your tickets now!