12 Iconic Sofas You Should Probably Know About

12 Iconic Sofas You Should Probably Know About


In 1968, Italian architect Cini Boeri began experimenting with simple molded-polyurethane forms that could be wrapped in removable quilts, almost like her children’s sleeping bags. The so-called Strips series, a name derived from that easy-to-undress design, was practical as ever: “The shell can be slipped off, washed, changed, put back on, and zipped up like a dress over a polyurethane body,” she wrote in 1974. The modular seats, sofas, and beds—which looked like building blocks wearing puffer coats—were officially unveiled in 1971 with Italian manufacturer Arflex (they still produce Strips today, from $8,150 for a sofa). Today, as the vogue for modular ’70s seating surges, design people across the globe have declared their allegiance. Starchitect Frank Gehry lives with several pieces in his Santa Monica home, and AD100 talent Charles de Lisle used a handful of green ones in his Sea Ranch Lodge redo in California. You can buy them new via Arflex, from $8,150, or hunt down a secondhand score from 1stDibs for a little less, if you’re lucky.

Strips Sofa by Cini Boeri for Arflex, 1970s

Pumpkin Sofa by Pierre Paulin for Ligne Roset, 1960s

Agathe Tissier

In the late 1960s, as France endeavored to jump-start the nation’s suffering design industry, they had a clever idea: a buzzy redo of president Georges Pompidou’s Élysée Palace apartment by the young French talent Pierre Paulin. In Paulin’s out-of-this-world rooms, there were several showstoppers: sculptural sofas and chairs molded from strips of wood wrapped in foam and upholstered in leather. While the seats were surely ogled by visiting dignitaries, the series—known to most as Élysée—didn’t gain a cult following until the early 2000s, when it reemerged at New York gallery Demisch Danant. “People knew Paulin, but they didn’t know about the French production,” explains Suzanne Demisch. “They were hard to find, even then.” Fashion designer Nicolas Ghesquiere snapped up some of the first that came onto the market. While those rare originals—put into a brief production by French manufacturer Alpha that ended around 1973—are hard to find, New York gallery Ralph Pucci now offers reeditioned versions. Meanwhile, for a more affordable option, check out Paulin’s 2007 version called Pumpkin for French maker Ligne Roset, from $5,260

Pumpkin Sofa by Pierre Paulin for Ligne Roset

Jean Royère’s Polar Bear Sofa, 1947

A polar-bear sofa and chair in a Malibu beach house by John Lautner.

Roger Davies



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