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The Chesterfield Sofa is the incarnation of the British aristocracy’s status symbol and definetely one of the most famous sofas of the history.

It was born at the end of the 18th century and its name derives from the client’s landed estate.

chesterfield sofa icon design story via

Lord Philippe Stanhope, fourth count of Chesterfield, diplomatic, writer and member of the House of Lords and especially a man from the most unequivocal aesthetical taste, ordered the first type of this sofa: a comfortable upholstery and a low sitting area.

The name of the sofa spreaded very quickly and, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, it was already used at the beginning of the 19th century, both in Great Britain and oversea to generally define a leather sofa.

chesterfield sofa icon design story via

The feature of the Chesterfield sofa is its capitonné typical processing: it’s an handmade method to process the upholstery of the sofa and creating that classical net of rhombus. The intersection points are then grounded on the wooden structure through some bottons.

The history of the Chesterfield sofa

Story goes that the count was looking for a sofa where to quickly relax without setting wrinkles on his clothes. That’s why he got inspired by the seats of the carriages: resistant, comfortable and perfect to keep the clothes’ straightening. Chesterfield was then created as a service couch and only afterwards it entered in the boardrooms.

chesterfield sofa icon design story

The famous count had perfectly in mind what he wanted: a wrapping cubic shell with such an armrest which allowed to keep the arms perpendicular to the body, so that the hands didn’t get numb.

Its success is the result of both the quality of the sofa and the social position of the count, who could be considered what we currently call a trend setter. He managed to make his couch a real must have for every bourgeois of the British capital city.

chesterfield sofa icon design story via

This is how the sofa got popular among the clubs, due to its comfort, its solemnity, its resistance and the undeniable double capacity of being both smart and informal.

These features ensure to the users to feel comfortable as well as to look elegant and all done up.

How to realize a Chesterfield

chesterfield sofa icon design story Chesterfield di VAMA Divani

The current method of processing is still the original one and provides for a wooden structure totally stuffed.

The inner part must be a spruce wooden block to ensure the stability and resistance of the structure that doesn’t risk to get broken.

The suspension could be of two different types:

  • with steel springs on jute straps which are tied one to another
  • with elastic high-strenght straps

chesterfield sofa icon design story

As far as the upholstery is concerned, they used and high intensity polyurethane foam in order to realize a resistant single padding able to keep the signs of the times; whereas for the cushions padding it could be used a lighter polyurethane to keep the sitting area softer.

In the end, the classical upholstery is obviously the leather, but I actually admit that the velvet one is still very attractive: it gives a kind of feminin touch!

chesterfield sofa icon design story via

Well, there are many aspects to make the high quality of the Chesterfield and its processing is one of these for sure!

Are you curious to see its process of creation? VAMA Divani, a Tuscanian company born in 1983, created this video to show how their Chesterfield sofas are made.

It’s astonishing how such a majestic product could be entirely hand made.

Want to see other design icons? You’ll find them here!

— These article has been written together with VAMA Divani. As usual, all opinions are mine: hope you are willing to support the companies we suggest! —