Photos by: Mirta Rojo
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In Residence: Jasper Conran | via NOWNESS
François Halard via Apartmento Magazine
Comfort has come a long way from wooden and stone benches in the Middle Ages when it was thought that the body was diametrically opposed to the soul and that the body pulled us toward the sinful, sensual and earthly ways rather than the godly, spiritual and divine ways. The Renaissance was not only a fervent period of cultural, artistic, political and economic rebirth. It was also a period when we began to embrace the body in addition to the soul and the concept of comforting our body led to the development of comfort in the home. We started to see pillows on those hard benches in the 1600’s and eventually the concept of integrating comfort into a functional piece of furniture ie. upholstered furniture during the Elizabethan period in England and the Louis XIV period in France. Needless to say, it didn’t take long until the upholstered chair, settees, chaise lounges, canapes, daybeds and not to mention love seats became proliferate in Europe as well in England.
Needless to say comfort evolved and we saw entire rooms dedicated to comfort. ie. living or drawing rooms with the sofa as the mainstay. Sofas complete with designs that integrated carved wood frames integrated with upholstery were common in these earlier eras until the chesterfield in England retired the carved frames and introduced a fully cushioned yet still tailored sofa.
The delicate carved wood frames with swirls, stars, animals and angel wings were replaced with straight lines and geometric carved frames until the wood frame completely disappeared into the simplicity of the fully upholstered sofa as we know it today.
Ok enough about the evolution of the sofa. You are probably wondering about couches and how they fit into this story. It is said that sofas evolved from chairs with backs and arms to sit on whereas couches evolved from daybeds and chaise lounges. They did not have traditional arms and backs and were intended to lay on. Sofas are typically larger than couches and accommodate more
people to sit in a social setting where people congregate such as a sitting room, living room and family room. Couches are smaller and usually more comfy for you to lay on alone or more intimately with another usually in a more private area of the house such as a lounge or bedroom. Simply speaking, I like to think of them as a sofa for social or a couch to slouch.
Tufted Sofa, England circa 1880 via Lee Stanton
1st Photo:François Halard via @ApartamentoMagazine Instagram
2nd Photo: WRJ Design via @RushJenkins Instagram
3rd Photo: Clements Design via Architectural Digest
The Kennels at Goodwood, Sussex
I would venture to say that when you are asked what comes to mind when you think French, your answer would be French wine, food, fashion and romance. Likewise, when you think Italian it will probably be pasta, clothing, leather goods, opera and drama. When it comes to English it definitely won’t be food, probably not fashion or clothing, maybe literature but more often than not it will be English furniture, architecture and perhaps nobility. This is not to say that the French or Italians did not have their impact on architecture and furniture. In fact, their bold designs in various periods over time have emotionally influenced design in furniture and architecture more than any other country in the world. So why do we relate the Brits to architecture and furniture? Their designs were not bold. They were not emotional. And they certainly were not romantic.
I believe that it is the safe, steady and consistent nature of British furniture or architecture that stands out over time. It is humble but makes a statement. It is strong but not dismissive. It is elegant but not gauche. If you were to relate British furniture to people, you would say they are stable, straightforward and someone you can rely on. They don’t stand in your way and they definitely get along with others. They can be very proper but they know how to have fun.
So why is British furniture such a foundation in design while at the same time so versatile? It all boils down to form and function. As I mentioned it is straightforward. For the most part the lines are straight. You know what you are going to get and that it’s going to go well with and allow other pieces to standout. It embraces and takes inspiration from other styles and periods yet stays true to itself. It translates well and is also functional Think of drop leaf or extending tables, bookcases, servers, chests of drawers and comfy lounge chairs. They serve a purpose and make our life more comfortable.
It’s no reason we relate to English furniture like we do to Italian pasta or French wine. It’s a staple. It’s always been there and it’s always going to be there for us to enjoy.
Designer Rose Uniacke takes us through
her neo-Georgian home via Nowness
1st Photo: The Kennels at Kennwood
2nd Photo: House & Garden UK
3rd Photo: @RoseUniacke Instagram
A musical artist studio captured by photographer William Abranowicz.
This interior design project by Monique Gibson for musician John Mellencamp in South Carolina is a serious yet playful studio. It is no wonder why the “Little Bastard” is known for his heartland brand of rock. The home first appeared in the March 2014 issue of Architectural Digest and is now featured in American Originals which highlights the interiors photography portfolio of Abranowicz.
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