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Statement Sofas

Statement sofas: How the ‘It’ couch became the ultimate status symbol

It should come as no surprise that in an era defined by Zoom-fuelled cocktail parties and intimate dinner parties at home, coupled with a new focus on textured materials and detailing, the cult of the ‘It’ couch has been born – and be it a Kagan, Bellini or Holly Hunt, the focus has firmly switched from what we are lounging in to what we are lounging on.

 “A sofa is a symbol of a home. It is warm, inviting and comforting,” American architect Jeffrey Beers tells Effect Magazine. “As it remains more prudent to entertain small groups of friends at home, our living rooms are essentially becoming hospitality lounges. The sofa, the key anchor of the space, now needs to visually wow as well as offer seating and comfort.” And as we enter a new season, Beers – who last year celebrated the 35th anniversary of his firm Jeffrey Beers International – is seeing a huge increase in demand for individual styles, textures and colours that tell a story, all while taking pride of place in the home. “This is paralleled with requests for bolder use of patterns across fabrics, paints and wallpapers,” he adds.

“A sofa has always been a star piece,” agrees Gemma Marnier, Associate Designer at David Collins Studio. “It is just one that has previously sometimes been undervalued as it can often be chosen as a last item to fit within the space, rather than being an informed part of that design.”

Our living rooms are essentially becoming hospitality lounges. The sofa, the key anchor of the space, now needs to visually wow.

Jeffrey Beers, founder, Jeffrey Beers International

A recent project from the studio – a penthouse apartment in London’s Mayfair district – sought to remedy that, with David Collins Studio’s designers building curved sofas for the large open-plan living and dining space, bringing an organic layer of softness and creating circulation, allowing easy movement to and from the dining and living zones while ensuring each remains defined. “The project was set within the heart of a very urban and architectural location, so it was important for the interior design to add another softer layer to contrast the lines and form of the building and cityscape views,” adds Marnier.

From Mario Bellini’s Camaleonda sofa – the beautiful and bulbous style that caused quite the stir when pictured in an image shared to Instagram by model Chrissy Teigen in February last year – to Michel Ducaroy’s Togo sofa for Ligne Roset – the French designer got the idea for the series one morning when he was brushing his teeth and his aluminum toothpaste tube “folded back on itself like a stovepipe closed at both ends” – there are a select number of iconic seats that keep reappearing time and time again. Vladimir Kagan is one such example, whose most famous design, the Serpentine sofa, was originally created as a place for viewing art thanks to the addition of casters which made it easy to move. Beers and Marnier both name the late American designer among their most popular client requests, while leading British interior designer Fiona Barratt-Campbell is also a fan – so much so that she credits Kagan’s designs for transforming a recent project of the studio.

“Vladimir Kagan’s designs are so timeless and yet so simple that they seamlessly fit within modern or traditional surroundings and don’t distract from the picture of the room as a whole,” she says. “On a recent project we went for a vintage Kagan in the library, and the gorgeous soft flowing lines very much complemented the traditional Georgian-style linear wood panelling on the walls. I love the contrast of how the old and new sit alongside each other.” The sofa was complemented by a modern Flexform in the drawing room, which now sits alongside an array of mid-century modern pieces – the perfect complement to the clean lines of the cherished seat.

For Katharine Pooley, one of the UK’s most sough-after interior designers, it’s all about attention to detail when it comes to her cult couch, and she attributes impactful sofas for adding a sculptural shape and fresh new dynamic to 2022’s most stylish living rooms. “My clients are really into collectable, one-of-a-kind talking-point pieces right now, and no-one does detailing better than Deniz Tunc,” she tells Effect. As part of a large, recently-completed project overlooking London’s Hyde Park (above), her studio designed a big, statement curved-back sofa with the Istanbul-based furniture designer to sit in the middle of the space and anchor the whole room. “The living room was a double height space with big windows, marble fireplaces and beautiful plasterwork,” explains Pooley. “We added contrast bronze arm detailing to the sofa to draw the eye, and the overall effect was unforgettably smart. Metal detailing is something I will be using a lot more of in 2022.”

We added contrast bronze arm detailing to the sofa to draw the eye, and the overall effect was unforgettably smart. Metal detailing is something I will be using a lot more of in 2022.

Katharine Pooley, interior designer

Aside from Tunc, Pooley also champions Holly Hunt for her large-scale block shapes, seamlessly upholstered craftsmanship and sculptural metal and woodwork detailing. “They are very modern yet completely timeless,” she adds.

Aside from exquisite detailing, a select few ‘It’ sofa trends are already emerging early in the year – bright hues and lively, creative patterns being one that stands out. As for Beers and Pooley though, they aren’t quite sold. “Personally, I prefer sofas and other such anchoring furniture pieces to be in a neutral tone, and instead I bring bold colour through decor accents, large paintings, and glass sculptures,” says Beers. The same goes for Pooley, who prefers a lighter tone of fabric to let the craftsmanship and detailing really pop. Cream bouclé, currently one of the interior world’s biggest trends, is the perfect antidote – look to Rosemary Hallgarten, Dedar and Pierre Frey for inspiration.

“Many people are feeling much lighter, fresher palettes post-pandemic, and with the sofa being the largest item in the room, it’s preferable to keep it light,” advises Barratt-Campbell. “I think people really want to create a sense of home and cosiness right now, and the trend is perfect for this.”

In other words, comfort is where the ‘It’ couch is really going for 2022, with a movement away from the more expected two- or three-seaters into more sculptural centrepieces that offer interesting shapes and supreme comfort. In the concluding words of Jeffrey Beers: “Have fun, but stay comfortable!”

Effect Magazine is brought to you by Effetto