Are You Sitting Comfortably?
Five stunning seats from our Online Shop
Amongst the most useful items of furniture, sofas and armchairs are not just for taking the proverbial weight off one’s feet, they also bring many options when creating or refreshing the look and feel of an interior.
An armchair’s motifs, materials and upholstery can bring a contrasting theme to the design of a room. For example, the fine features and details seen in an antique armchair will flourish in a minimalist, pared-down environment.
Upholstered armchairs are incredibly flexible, they can easily undergo a makeover with the overall structure of the piece remaining intact. Aged walnut, oak or mahogany would work brilliantly dressed with a contemporary textile.
And, down to its dimensions a sofa is inevitably the main focus in a living room; this presents the perfect opportunity to select a unique, statement piece to draw the eye.
As well as being eminently practical each seat tells a story from the history of seating and all are available to purchase online now.
The French Hepplewhite style sofa
A fine and large George III mahogany serpentine camel back sofa in the French Hepplewhite style: George Hepplewhite (d. 1786) gives his name to light and graceful pieces styled such as this – with its rippling padded back, wavy seat rail, moulded cabriole legs and peg feet. His designs were published posthumously by his widow, and were heavily influenced by French taste and fashion – the craze for which was sweeping through England at the time. Unlike his contemporary, Thomas Chippendale, who created pieces in a variety of styles, Hepplewhite’s output tended to be slender and curvilinear in shape. This eye catching, elegant sofa with its generous proportions and deep and comfortable squab cushions would totally transform a room.
An Empire carved mahogany marquise armchair in the manner of Jacob
The marquise armchair first appeared in the middle of the 18th century, and the model is also known as a ‘half sofa’ – falling between the armchair and sofa. The rich satin silk upholstery contrasts beautifully with the carved mahogany. François-Honoré-Georges Jacob-Desmalter (1770–1841) ran one of the most successful and influential workshops in Paris, having taken over the business created by his father, Georges Jacob. The firm was the principal supplier of furniture to Napoleon, and other dazzling, high profile commissions followed. His seat designs were inspired by pieces seen in Antiquity, notably thrones. Empire era furniture was characterised by ostentation, although this piece is undoubtedly grand and regal, it also has a confident restraint.
A mid-19th century Chinese export padouk armchair in the Louis XV style
This armchair reflects several influences – created for the Chinese export market in the Louis XV style, it is made in padouk and with a rattan back and seat. China’s trade with the West took off from the 1840s and demand was heavy for her silks, porcelain and furniture. Chairs in the Louis XV style are characterised by their lightness, comfort and harmony of lines, and carving invariably features florals and foliage – all these features are seen here. The use of woven rattan makes this an extremely restful item of seating, perfect indeed for sitting comfortably.
George III open armchair in the Chippendale style
An extremely handsome armchair. Its undulating top rail with acanthus carving and delicate outswept moulded arms contrast with robust, square section moulded legs. Thomas Chippendale was certainly not the only 18th century furniture maker deploying Gothic themes in armchairs, however, his highly successful pattern book The Gentlemen and Cabinet-Maker’s Director, 1754, featuring Gothic-influenced designs ensures he continues to be associated with these aesthetics. The seat back seen here takes its inspiration from Gothic tracery. The tapestry seat is close-to contemporary with the armchair, but, if replaced with a textured silk in either a pattern or single colour would make an interesting decorative statement.
Italian carved walnut 'Savonarola' chair
Versions of the X-frame chair were seen in Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, and various forms were in widespread use throughout Renaissance Europe. It was the forerunner of today’s foldable chair - importantly, in a sustainable material. ‘Savonarola’ is the most common name for these chairs, named after a similar item found in the convent of San Marco, Florence, used by the 15thc. Dominican friar and preacher, Girolamo Savonarola. Walnut was a favoured wood of the Renaissance, with designs and materials associated with this period undergoing a revival in Europe from the mid-19th century. The chair works as a decorative piece, perhaps for a hallway, but would be turned into an inviting seat with the addition of a rich, red velvet cushion.