The Rise and Fall (& Rise Again) of the Sofa
Sofa:(n) a long, upholstered seat with a back and arms for two or more people.
You might say we’re biased, but here at Lombok we love a good sofa. From a welcoming seat at the end of a long day, to the place to squeeze family and friends, this humble piece is a key feature in any home. Nowadays, it's a furniture item we somewhat take for granted, we thought we’d take a look back at the sofa’s regal beginnings and bumpy road to popularity.
The word “sofa” is derived from the Arabic “suffah”, a raised area of floor filled with drapes, rugs, and cushions for comfort. “Couch” is an adaptation of the French “coucher” meaning to lay down, whilst “settee” comes from the English “settle” meaning to 'get comfortable in a place'. The Persian “Devan” referring to a group of rulers who typically lounged on soft furnishings led to the English adaptation “Divan”.
Sofa style furniture items can be traced as far back as 2000BC. In Ancient Egypt, the more luxury Chaise Longue styles were used only by the very wealthy, such as Pharaohs. Poorer members of society used bench-style pieces made from stone. Popularity of the sofa increased during the Roman Empire, again being available mostly to the rich. The decline of Rome in the 5th Century brought with it the decline of the sofa, as such the furniture wasn’t seen again for 1000 years.
Above: Channel your inner Pharaoh and lounge on our Keraton Carved Day Bed.
Significant improvements in architecture and living standards across Europe in the 16th Century, led to homes that were much more waterproof and comfortable. This helped enable a revival of the sofa by craftsmen of the era. Designs were very quickly made to be visually stunning, but comfort levels took some time to catch up; pieces made in this time were often stuffed with fibres such as moss or horsehair.
Above: The iconic Chesterfield Three Seater provides timeless style for your home.
The flamboyance and visual design in sofa styles remained well into the 18th Century, with pieces very much used as statement items in the home. As the 1800’s drew closer, advancements opened the door to more practical, subtle, and affordable sofas, with the Industrial Revolution accelerating this transition. The increased availability and affordability of fabrics, sewing machines, and fibres saw comfort levels rise and costs fall.
The greater affordability was well timed, with sofas becoming more of a necessity as the popularity of the wireless increased. Families would gather to sit and listen to broadcasts for a few hours in the evenings, and a comfortable sofa made the experience much more pleasant.
Comfort continues to improve as materials and technologies advance, and extra features such as; built in sofa bed mechanisms, storage space, and reclining mechanisms have made sofas more practical for living. Importantly, however, style has become an important element of design once again.
Above: Compliment your modern style décor with our Karlsson range, such as this elegant Karlsson Three Seater.
The Lombok team strive to combine the most comfortable features, with the most stylish, and current designs to help you find the sofa that fits your lifestyle. Can’t find the perfect centrepiece for your home? Get in touch with us to find out more about our made to order service.