Designers’ Picks: The Best Curved Sofas & Why You Need One
The allure of a curved sofa is undeniable. At once sleek, curvy, and comfy, it’s hard to resist its chic demeanor. The sinuous style was made famous by midcentury modern furniture designer Vladimir Kagan, who created the iconic Serpentine sofa in 1950. Since Kagan’s passing in 2016, the popularity of the curved sofa has increased among design professionals, even leading to heated bidding wars for Serpentines on sites such as 1stDibs.com.
The Serpentine sofa was only Kagan’s preliminary dive into curved couches. His 1952 Floating Curve sofa, accented by poignant walnut legs and back support, had a Jetsons vibe, in a good way. By 1970, Kagan’s take on the signature style became the unforgettable Cloud sofa — at its boldest in navy mohair and resting on circular walnut pedestals — with lines that wrapped around the back end, creating an S curve.
Kagan wasn’t the only midcentury modern furniture designer to embrace the slinky sofa. Husband-and-wife duo Ico and Luisa Parisi, who together formed the design studio La Ruota, unveiled their curved sofa in 1951, an important style that was sharp and soft at the same time.
The iconic curved sofas of the '70s belonged to French designer Pierre Paulin and Italian designer Paolo Castelli. Paulin began as a sculptor but switched gears after an arm injury and a newfound love of Scandinavian and Japanese design. He was best known for foam-padded seating creations that cradled the body in a sensual manner. Paulin's work ranged from furnishings for French presidents Georges Pompidou and Francois Mitterrand to inspiring the chair featured in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. His Big C and Alpha sofa (reminiscent of his Pumpkin chairs) designs are still sought after today.
Castelli turned a sleepy, family-owned cabinetry workshop into a globally recognized design force with the 1970 introduction of the Plia folding chair and subsequent modular furniture designs. His Durban curved sofa and remarkable Vao 380 sofa, a rounded three-piece sectional with a spongy appearance, are standouts in the curved sofa category.
The future-facing work of architect Zaha Hadid also influenced the winding couch design. Hadid, whose design nickname was Queen of the Curve, passed away in 2016, leaving a legacy of the Moon System sofa in partnership with B&B Italia. Their modernistic curves reside in the coolest of homes.
Today’s generation of designers is intrigued by the style as well. Internationally known, Paris-based designer India Mahdavi, dubbed Queen of Color and noted for her use of lacquer, rattan, and ceramic, is an Instagram darling among the interior design set. Her Cap Martin curved sofa in bright green combines retro styling with an au courant aesthetic.
While a curved sofa poses some practical issues (some might fear they would lose floor space, for example), it also creates creative pockets for a well-placed floor lamp or statue-sized objet d’art for an intriguing and dramatic look that makes up for any square feet sacrificed. Conversely, curved sofas can bring wide-open loft-like spaces or cookie-cutter apartments a sense of much-needed intimacy and charm. There are many chic curved sofa options on the market appealing to a range of budgets to give anyone access to try it in their own space.