Knole, chaise longue and Chesterfield are
three sofa design classics that, despite being hundred of years
old, remain hugely popular among the sofa buying public and the
inspiration for numerous updated variations.
The Knole is named after a distinctive sofa
originating from Knole House in Sevenoaks, Kent, home of the
Sackville family. It has high sides, a tall back and drop-down
sides that are kept together using braid ties. These give the sofa
a rather impermanent quality, as if the sofa is likely to collapse.
The drop down sides have a practical purpose - they can be lowered
to make a bed (or at least they were intended to allow this when
originally designed, though this is seldom done now).
The chaise longue is a cross between a sofa and
a bed, a simple long chair with canted back, armrests and leg
support. Versions of this classic design have been traced back to
Egyptian, Roman and South American cultures, as well as China.
The version we are most familiar with dates
back to the 17th century Rococo era of Louis XV, when the use of
gilt, mahogany and rich fabrics projected an image of great luxury.
In the modern era the Corbusier Chaise Longue is an instantly
recognisable classic, designed in 1928 and made of leather and
tubular stainless steel.
The Chesterfield sofa evokes the ambience of
libraries, clubs or country houses, delivering great comfort (and
improving looks as its leather softens and matures with growing
age). It is renowned for its stylishness and sense of
sophistication. One theory is that the name comes from Phillip, the
fourth Earl of Chesterfield (1694-1773). It is thought that he may
have commissioned the first Chesterfield design and that the name
has stuck with the distinctive look ever since. Immortality had
been achieved, in the name of a sofa.