THE COUPLE first spotted the sinuous sofa in the lobby of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in the 1970s. There on a family trip from New York, they couldn’t get the curved 17.5-foot sectional—a $25,000 piece tufted in segments like a caterpillar and named “Non Stop” by Swiss furniture brand de Sede—out of their minds.
Soon after their Israel trip, they stumbled upon the exact same couch in the “Sales & Bargains” column of New York magazine for less than a third of the retail price. “Someone had ordered it and never picked it up,” explained the couple’s daughter-in-law Robin Correnti, to whom they eventually bequeathed the brown leather sectional 10 years ago. It lives in the family room of the Fort Myers, Fla., home she shares with her husband and two adult sons.
‘A curved sectional looks beautiful from all angles and can easily float in a room as opposed to sit against a wall.’
In 2015, when Ms. Correnti refreshed the décor, local designer Dwayne Bergmann revamped every interior element but one. “Our whole house had to be designed around the couch,” she said. “It has so much room, everybody can be on this couch at once.”
Designers are once again falling for semicircular modulars and their modernist flair. Ushering in this boom in bendy sectionals: the considerable social-retooling caused by Covid-19.
Los Angeles designer Anne Sage, who recently placed a circular sectional in her co-owned creative space, appreciates that the sweeping seating encourages interaction—sitters are compelled to make eye contact—but is large enough for social distancing.
“Our old sofa was a dusty pink velvet tufted number that was cool in 2015 but was feeling dated in 2019,” said Ms. Sage, “and now in 2020 and beyond you simply need to allow for more space between people.” A moment for compact love seats this is not.
“I feel a curved sectional is akin to the 1960s conversation pit,” said Los Angeles designer Jamie Bush, who designed a C sofa for a client who wanted both a home office and a family lounge area in which to relax, read and watch TV. “You can sit across from one another and talk in one singular furniture piece.” Mr. Bush also points out the seat’s inherent playfulness. “It’s visually disarming, so immediately you feel more relaxed and at ease,” he said.
For a client’s vacation lodge in Big Sky, Mont., designer Kendall Wilkinson chose a curved, eight-seat sectional for the family of five, including three children under 10. It is covered with stain-resistant fabric—a jute-colored beige with an accent stripe. In the home’s open-plan recreation space, it faces a stone fireplace and widescreen TV and “creates a home theater feel to the room,” said Ms. Wilkinson, who is based in San Francisco.
Placed in front of a window with a vista, the semicircular sofa affords all sitters a view but maintains conviviality by pivoting them slightly inward. San Francisco designer Heather Hilliard, who equates conversing next to someone on a straight sofa with “sitting on a bench at a bus stop,” opted for a teal curved sectional from Ochre for a family room that looks onto the Bay Area’s Presidio National Park.
Miami designer Rita Chraibi similarly introduced a circular sectional into a Miami Beach living space so guests could comfortably gather and communally take in panoramic views of the city and bay. So occupants can stretch their legs, Ms. Chraibi added poufs and ottomans.
Interior designer and art adviser Elena Frampton, based in New York, likes to pepper in rounded seating to break up the visually irritating “sea of legs” created by a room full of chairs, couches and tables. “A curved sofa often has a fullness, is low to the floor and is differentiated from the leggy seating in the mix,” said Ms. Frampton, who has used C sofas in recent local projects.
Given their sculptural quality, serpentine sectionals, which generally start at 10 feet wide, can stand gracefully alone. “A curved sectional looks beautiful from all angles and can easily float in a room as opposed to sit against a wall,” said Ms. Hilliard. “It feels flexible and fluid.”
These meandering pieces, a shape American designer Vladimir Kagan championed beginning in the 1950s, suggest romance in a way that beguiles buyers. “I think their curves can add a softly sophisticated look to a room,” said Australian designer Greg Natale, who has installed many circular sofas.
“Stylistically, I love a curved couch in a contemporary and minimal space to serve as a counterpoint to sleek spaces, which are often linear, angular and potentially sharp,” said Ms. Frampton. In classical spaces with moldings and period details, Ms. Frampton suggested upholstering a curved sofa in a patterned textile for an unpredictable design twist.
You can find an array of curved sectionals online, from svelte, relatively compact three seaters like Anthropologie’s Grace Serpentine U-Shaped Sectional, to oversize vintage pieces like the midcentury Milo Baughman for Thayer Coggin half-circle sectional sofa.
For his Philadelphia event space, Maximalist Studios, designer and author Eddie Ross found a legendary 1960s Baughman six-seater sofa on eBay, for which he paid about $3,000 to buy, ship and reupholster. Mr. Ross appreciates the piece for its comely profile and magnetic appeal.
“It reminds me of the couch in the ‘I Dream of Jeannie’ bottle,” he said. “People just want to be in it.”
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