Houses are getting smaller but furniture is getting bigger. What is going on?

Montauk/Screen capture

Back at the turn of the century, this ad was in every magazine and put Montauk on the map with their monster oversized chair. It went away, but according to the New York Times, big furniture is back with a vengeance, even as our homes get smaller and people downsize into apartments. Steven Kurutz notices the trend and writes in the New York Times:

Furniture has been bulking up for several years now, partly to match the scale of all the cavernous “great rooms” that became must-haves in new homes (and perhaps also to match expanding waistlines). But big furniture seems to have reached a critical mass of comical massiveness.

In many cases, the stuff won't even go into elevators or through doorways. But Americans seem to love the big oversized furniture:

“People want the furniture to be more comfy,” [furniture buyer] Ms. Enders said. “The more contemporary furniture, which has lower seating with firmer backs — I don’t understand how the Europeans use that furniture.”

Slanket /Screen capture

I can't help thinking that perhaps Europeans don't spend all of their time with remote controls in one hand, bowls of popcorn in the other, all wrapped in a slanket. If you are going to live like that you are going to need a lot of room. Perhaps they don't use their sofas as beds and dining rooms.

Le Corbusier via Design Within Reach/Screen capture

It is also true that the standard LC2 on the right, designed by Le Corbusier in the late 1920s, is a snug fit, the cushion is barely 20 inches wide. It is also extremely comfortable and beautifully proportioned. The LC3 on the left is less so. But I suspect many of today's bottoms wouldn't fit into an LC2 anymore.

One writer suggests that it is all about image.

To Mr. Hine, the culture and design writer, however, what appears to be a desire for comfort is really “ostentatious indulgence.” Referring to all those sprawling sofas and chairs, he said: “They look like they have to be the most comfortable thing ever. But then there’s an element of ‘I want to impress everyone with how comfortable I am.’ ”

So much for "less is more."

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Tags: Chairs | Less Is More | Living With Less | New York City

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