The history of the study tells a story of the cultural advancement of our modern societies and way of thinking. What we now call a home office or study, dates back as far as the Renaissance, to accommodate a newly available piece of furniture – the desk. The words study, office, and secretary are all derived from words stemming from the desk. During those times, the desk was a place to store personal documents under lock and key, when having personal property, basic human rights, and time for leisure were all relatively new cultural concepts. It’s easy to understand why our studies, dens, libraries, and even bars grew to become spaces heavily decorated with wood, reflecting the furniture and types of thought they originally grew to fit. As these mentalities relating to a more humanist approach grew within our societies, so did the study and individual expression along with it.
Michael de Montaigne is credited with inventing the “essay” in his study – a room on the third floor of his stone tower, surrounded by books and large windows. Though different than most studies of the time, he credits this space with giving him the mindset to continuously read, question himself, and write down his thoughts. He called this practice “essays” or the French word for “attempt or try.” In his study, Montaigne birthed one of the most important and time-withstanding modes of thinking in human history. These attempts inspired others to do the same, until personal expression through writing became a common practice in society.
From gas-lit lanterns to LED lighting, the main purpose of the study has not greatly changed. While a ‘home office’ is primarily thought of as a space of productivity, it can also be one to daydream and contemplate our fast-paced modern lives. What are the primary uses for your study? Should it be a place of work, leisure or reflection? Should it be filled with books, computer screens or art supplies? Should it be more reclusive and intricate, or open and bright? Should it fit the style of the home or defy it? The answers will bring you to a closer understanding of what your study needs to be – a place in which to try.
Study design for Newton Victorian