After a year in which many people hung up their office attire and evening wear in favor of all-day pajamas, a design trend that has been bubbling up for years became fully inflated: the embrace of bulbous, low-slung, super-squishy furniture that offers all-out comfort.
Sofas and chairs that evoke plush 1970s lounges are suddenly hot commodities. At the same time, contemporary designers are taking oversize proportions and sink-in plushiness to a level that would have seemed profane to devoted modernists just a few years ago.
Soriana lounge chairs and sofas, which were designed for Cassina in 1969, feature voluminous tufted cushions squashed into place by chrome bracing. The pieces can now be found in the homes of design luminaries such as Nate Berkus, Kelly Wearstler and Shanan Campanaro of Eskayel.
"They just seem like a lot of fun," Berkus said. "Whether the interior is totally monochromatic or a mix of bright English or French patterns, they still look cool."
Well aware of the swelling interest, Cassina reintroduced the Soriana collection in April, after ceasing production in 1982, when they last fell out of favor.
"For us, it was kind of a no-brainer," said Luca Fuso, the Italy-based company's chief executive. "If you look at the trends, if you look at Instagram, Soriana is everywhere."
Of course, Cassina isn't the only European manufacturer panning through archives in search of furniture gold. The Danish brand Gubi reintroduced the poufy cloud-inspired Pacha lounge chair, originally released in 1975, and followed it up with a Pacha sofa.
In 2020, B&B Italia also revived a hippie-age relic, which had last seen production in 1979: Camaleonda, a modular sofa with cables and rings that tie down puffy padding.
Ligne Roset's Togo modular sofa and chairs, which were designed in 1973 and resemble crumpled oversize floor pillows, are another designer favorite.
But it's not only pieces from the 1970s that are attracting attention. Many contemporary designers are exploring similarly plump forms and cushy materials, as well, in products with names that exude downy comfort.
There is the Puffer chair by Moving Mountains, a different beanbag-like Puffer chair by Philippe Malouin for SCP and the Tube chair by Objects of Common Interest with Falke Svatun.
Faye Toogood, a London-based designer who got her start creating spartan furniture like the Spade chair (a hard seat with a backrest resembling a shovel handle) has recently been turning out radically softer pieces. Her Puffy lounge chair for Hem, for instance, resembles a well-stuffed sleeping bag slung over a metal frame.
"To be able to cocoon you and support you, but in a soft and squidgy way, was my ambition," Toogood said. "It's the essence of feeling like you're under a duvet or under lots of cushions."
Petrus Palmer, Hem's founder and chief executive, said the chair had been a hit.
"It's rare to launch a big-ticket furniture item and get immediate commercial success — it usually builds over time," he noted. "But with Puffy we were off to the races from Day 1."
Toogood also introduced a bed for Birkenstock at the end of March with sides and a headboard so voluminous it could be mistaken for a crash mat.
"It's part of my softgoods obsession," Toogood said. "We need that comfort and softness at the moment."
But she also predicts that the move to more casual, comfier modes of seating will outlive the pandemic.
"In my own work, I'm going to be embracing more color, more pattern and comfort," she said. "I feel that the Puffy chair and the bed have it to a certain extent — there's a joyousness about the shapes."
As the pandemic slows and it's possible to safely entertain guests again, she added, "we will all become a little more relaxed."