Eight Modern Sofas you Should Know of Before Buying
Cabriole is a term that was used to describe a carriage or a cab in the 18th Century. This sofa looks a bit like the cab seat’s structure with the trim of the back curving into arms in one seamless sweep of exposed wood. Set off by the simplicity of fitted upholstery, the wood displays a baroque styling with elaborate carvings. Lastly, there are no back cushions.
ENGLISH ROLL-ARM SOFA
This sofa was made famous by English furniture-maker George Smith, who calls it the Standard Arm Signature Sofa. A high back and low arms at the sides characterise this sofa, making the structure more relaxed and casual in appearance. Some English Roll Arm sofas wear a ‘skirt’, concealing its feet, and they have padded loose seats and back cushions. The versatility of this sofa design ensures that it will never go out of style. A less common name for the English Roll Arm sofa is the Bridgewater sofa.
THE KNOLE SOFA
The Knole sofa was specifically created in the 17th Century for the historical Knole House, an estate home in Kent, England. Thereafter, the fashion caught on, and modern reproductions still preserve the stately curvature of the original design. Also known as the ‘Knole settee’, this sofa features deep seats, with a high back and sides. Some aristocratic ladies of Tudor England took full advantage the fact that the closed-in framework that warded off the cold common in draughty old English castles. The Knole sofa usually has decorative wooden finials on the sofa back, to which the adjustable side arms are tied with braids and tassels.
THE CAMELBACK SOFA
Besides the hump, another attribute that distinguishes the Camelback sofa is its widely-flared arms that roll outwards and can be used to lean against. With a slight incline in the back, this sofa allows people to sit in a less rigid posture. The Camelback has been in existence since the 18th Century and was first made popular by the English cabinetmaker, Chippendale. There are many variations of this style in the market. Designers have added their own unique twists to the basic structure, and one Camelback is very unlikely to look like another.
THE LAWSON SOFA
The famous 20th Century financier, Thomas Lawson, commissioned the design of the Lawson sofa. Tired of Victorian frills and fusses, he ordered his furniture-maker to think of a sofa that chose simplicity and comfort over stately style. The original design has three attached back pillows above three seat cushions. The arms are lower than the back. The back is not upright but pitched at a very restful angle. Sometimes, the Lawson sofa is dressed in a skirt. The Lawson is the ideal sofa for the afternoon nap because of the positioning of its arms.
THE CHESTERFIELD SOFA
In the 17th century, the Earl of Chesterfield, Phillip Stanhope, commissioned the creation of what we now know as the Chesterfield sofa. A trendsetter during his times, Stanhope wanted his furniture man to come up with a design that allowed a gentleman to sit comfortably without wrinkling his garments. The result was a sofa design with a buttoned and quilted back, rolled arms, nailhead trim and low seat base. An ageless, timeless, male masterpiece. Phillip Stanhope’s godson was visiting him at the time of his death. From his deathbed, a very sick Stanhope called upon his butler to “give the gentleman a chair”. The butler took this last command from his master quite literally, and after Stanhope’s passing, he went against the wishes of the family and insisted that the godson go back home with the original Chesterfield.
THE TUXEDO SOFA
The sofa gets its name from the same place that men’s tuxedo evening wear did: Tuxedo Park in New York. Invented in the 1920s, the Tuxedo is one of the first sofa designs that shook off the yokes of classicism and took the first steps toward modernised home décor. The lightweight design with tightly tailored upholstery features arms that are of the same height as the back. The legs are exposed and there are no back cushions to spoil the appearance of its neat, spare silhouette.
THE MID-CENTURY MODERN SOFA
The designs trend that took over the Western world from 1940 to 1970 has re-emerged as a fashionable décor choice in the last few years, reviving the market appeal of Mid-Century modern sofas. These tufted sofas are straight with neat, squared lines and low-slung arms. The exposed metal or wooden legs are low and generally square or slightly tapered. The Mid-Century Modern sofa has become a byword for stylish urban living. If you’re looking for a style that’s smart, practical and suitable for small spaces, there are few rivals to this one.