Button-tufted furniture is often associated with oversized leather armchairs and sofas. The kind with scroll armrests and heavy wooden feet. If you haven’t seen the diamond-shaped patterning at your grandparent’s place, you might have noticed it in a Victorian painting or illustration. Completing the scene could be a Sherlock Holmesian character, lounging, pipe-in-mouth, in his gentlemen’s only salon. Fair enough, such upholstery was popular in the mid-1800s. Puffy perches were a newly accessible luxury to the upwardly mobile middle class, as industrialized manufacturing made them more widely available. Previously, all such upholstery would have been done by hand and so would have been prohibitively costly.
At the time, tufting wasn’t just pretty, it was also practical. The evenly spaced ties were used to hold the padding (horse hair, for example) in place, to prevent the seat from getting overly lumpy. Cushions these days are filled with high tech foams that never get clumpy, no matter how squirmy the sitter, so tufting is often unnecessary. But it’s reviving as a look nonetheless.
These days, designers love the poufs and puckers for their nostalgic qualities. Whether it’s being used in an armchair or something much more avant-garde, tufting still recalls a time-gone touch of luxury and an unquestionable bit of comfort. Here, six of the most whimsically modern takes.
Fluid but firm
Park it on a puffball
Lush, not lumpy
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