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Coffered Ceilings in History

coffered ceiling, box beam ceiling

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The Duomo

Visitors to the Piazza dei Miracoli in Pisa, Italy are mostly there to see the world-famous Leaning Tower. Yet the Tower is merely an addition to the far more impressive Duomo (cathedral), which dates to 1063. Intrepid visitors who weave through the posing throngs outside and enter the vast nave of the church are rewarded by a sight of the magnificent coffered ceiling, which was restored and enhanced after a disastrous fire in 1596. [1]

The restored coffered ceiling features exquisite joinery, carving, trimwork, painting and a covering of gold leaf. In this gilded masterpiece, we see a brief history of the coffered ceiling form. The restoration and embellishment of this coffered design offered the city a chance to display wealth, power, devotion, and craftsmanship in a very public forum. Its design has endured for over 400 years, and continues to draw the eyes and earn the praises of countless visitors.

Until recently, the beauty of coffered ceilings was typically found only in ornate public buildings like the Duomo, or in very exclusive residences or major buildings where the ceiling would be a masterpiece of individual craftsmanship in an expensive, formal installation. The difficulty of the installation was not a major deterrent; in such settings a coffered ceiling might be chosen in part because it was expensive and complex to build.

The Tilton Coffered Ceiling system changes that conventional wisdom. It makes the beauty of a coffered ceiling design available for a much wider range of projects, whether restoration or new construction, residential or commercial, in any size or shape of room. Builders, contractors and designers who may never have considered a coffered ceiling installation will discover how easy it is to add this beautiful element to their projects. Coffered ceilings will always be elegant, but they no longer need to be rare. The past remains proudly on display in Pisa, but thanks to the Tilton Coffered Ceiling System, the future of the coffered ceiling design will be established in homes and businesses all over the world.

[1] The Ecclesiologist, Ecclesiological Society, Cambridge: Camden Society, 1868, p.319