The cushion and the sofa are in interesting pair. It is not, for example, functionally necessary to put a designer cushion on top of a designer sofa – the sofa works fine as a sofa without the extra input. Indeed, designer cushions are often taken off a sofa or a chair before someone sits in or on the item – so the design of the cushion is not mussed, and also because some cushions are so big that they make sitting on a sofa or chair impossible.
Thereis, then, a unique relationship between designer sofas and the designer cushion. It is the relationship shared between a piece of art and its frame – or, more specifically perhaps, between the major colour themes of a work and its highlights.
Make no mistake – all designed interiors are works of art. If we accept a definition of art that says something like “art is communication”, specifically communication of intangibles, then designing interiors becomes an artistic endeavour indeed. This is why most interior designers are highly creative people – and more tellingly, this is why the rest of us leave the work to those that can.
A work of art communicates its feeling, its emotion, through the agglomeration of form and image. In a designed room, that emotion can be quite hard to define. It is about more than simply matching colours, materials and patterns that all work together. It is also about creating a reason for those shapes and images to collide.
Blue colours, for example, may remind the room’s user of the coast or the sea – particularly where used in conjunction with specific nautical imagery or signs. Botanical prints speak of the jungle, or of travels in far-off lands: but it is the specific fabrics used to showcase those prints that makes the connection come to life.
An interior designer works in feel as well as sight; by touch as well as vision. He or she combines personal emotions with publically recognisable tropes to give his or her clients rooms that can engender deep emotions of their own. The chances are good that a designer work a person really likes will have the same kind of response to the world as he or she does – it is the way of art that people of like mind tend to respond well to art created by others in the same vein of thought.
So what does all this have to do with a sofa and some cushions? Well, a designer sofa is still just a couch by any other name. It’s the look of the thing, and its conjunction with everything around it, that makes it a proper designer piece: and that means it may need cushions to complete its appearance, even if those cushions are not used.
By this logic, cushions become an adjunct to the overall visual impact of a room rather than a specific functional item for making a backside less likely to be uncomfortable. All of which raises the following question. Can you take designer sofas away from the full room design and it still be a designer sofa?