The last 12 months could be considered the year of the couch potato—for us lucky ones who were housebound, at least. So perhaps it’s only natural that a particular breed of bulbous, totally lounge-worthy, and often modular sofas—we’re officially deeming them “blob sofas”—is having a serious comeback. Call it a pandemic-era antidote, if you will, to what feels like a century of trim, buttoned-up midcentury-modern silhouettes perched on tapered legs. Finally, we’re letting loose!
You’ve seen them: Mario Bellini’s 1970 Camaleonda, its fat modules of fabric-covered polyurethane are hooked together with carabiners, recently made a cameo on Chrissy Teigen’s Instagram feed in a post about fuzzy slippers. Beastie Boy Mike D, tastemaker Athena Calderone, and artist Daniel Arsham are also admirers. Then there’s Tobia and Afra Scarpa’s 1969 Soriana sofa, in which supple leather is casually draped around a polyurethane middle and cinched with a metal belt. Its fan club includes AD100 designers Rodman Primack and Kelly Wearstler. And of course Michel Ducaroy’s slouchy Togo, designed for Ligne Roset in 1973 beloved by tastemakers like Clara Cornet, Jonny Ribeiro, and Eskayel founder Shanan Campanaro. We’ll even lump in Ubald Klug’s 1970s Terrazza sofa for De Sede, its groovy, roly-poly silhouette beloved by a range that stretches from Kylie Jenner to Yves Behar.
Two Ubald Klug Terrazza sofas face off in this eclectic Los Angeles home by AD100 firm Charlap Hyman & Herrero.
But what is it about these strange—dare we say, ugly?—silhouettes that have captivated us, as they plop down in living rooms across the globe? Perhaps there’s some pandemic-era appeal to their slouchy, Jabba-the-Hutt forms—the sofa’s equivalent of sweatpants. And certainly there’s the utility factor: Modular sofa components that can be reconfigured with ease are particularly useful in the era of the living room slash schoolhouse slash office slash playroom.
“They’re shapes that you don’t see every day,” points out Kelly Wearstler, an early adaptor of the blob in its many forms. Her family lives with a Soriana sofa in Malibu, and a set of Terrazzas in Beverly Hills. “I like to experiment with the orientation,” she says of the latter. “They’re like dominoes. You can have a 50- or 60-foot-long sofa if you want.”
Mario Bellini’s Camaleonda sofa in the L.A. home of gallery owner Nino Mier and Barbara Gladstone Gallery partner Caroline Luce.
There’s also an intimacy about them, notes Rodman Primack, who says he’s always been drawn to low furniture. “I like the casualness of being so close to the floor. It makes a room immediately less formal.” Plus, he says, “They have this inviting volume due to their roundness and mounded feeling. They have character.”
The blob’s sudden appeal couldn’t be better timed—last year B&B Italia relaunched the Camaleonda with more eco-friendly materials, and just this month Cassina reissued the Soriana sofa. Contemporary brands are also mining these groovy 1970s modular sofa designs for inspiration. Detroit-based Floyd just debuted its first-ever sectional this year made up of big, soft rectangular blobs.
Another dreamy Bellini in Athena Calderone’s Brooklyn town house.
But don’t expect this trend to remain couched in the socially distant pandemic era. These pieces, with their casual ’70s sexiness, encourage out-of-the-box seating arrangements and togetherness. Plus, their modular qualities make them great for entertaining, as social gatherings begin again. Primack can attest: “They invite a kind of louche intimacy that can turn a cozy night with friends into a party of three, dancing on the sofas. It happened to me.”