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A history of the Sofa in 30 seconds

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The earliest Sofa we know of was found in Egypt around 2000 years BC

As we take a lightening look at the sofa through the ages, we see it emerge as an important symbol of modern life. As communities moved away from a nomadic existence where they often pack up and move at short notice, the sofa comes to represent a settled life of permanence, safety and comfort.

The earliest sofa we know of was found in Egypt around 2000 years BC. In fact, the word ‘sofa’ originates from the Arabic word ‘suffah’ or bench. These magnificent seats were considered very luxurious and were made especially for Pharoes and royalty. A little later on, the Romans also enjoyed lavish seating and we often associate classic luxury with lounging chairs and elegant stone benches. However, this kind of furniture was reserved for the elites and most people using thick carpets or tapestry to furnish their homes and insulate them from the damp and cold.

It was only when buildings became more solid that seats started to be seen as a way to decorate a room. With European designers and textile producers letting their imagination run wild, the history of the sofa suddenly went into fast-forward mode. Before long, manufacturers started stuffing seats using dried moss, horse hair and feathers to create what we now know as a modern day armchair.

In the 18th Century, Cabinet makers like Thomas Chippendale started publishing catalogues, which they called pattern books in those days, booklets full of new furniture design ideas. These included designs for early sofas. It was following this period that the idea stopped becoming associated with luxurious elites and became a commonplace household necessity.

With improved machinery, factories started to put springs in sofas making them even more bouncy and improved the level of padding. When sewing machines came along, manufacturers were suddenly empowered to make sofas much more quickly and at more affordable prices. In the 1960’s designers came up with plenty of quirky design ideas from inflatable sofas to water cushions as furniture became a way for people to make a fashion statement through their home.

Nowadays, the great majority of UK families own a sofa that is both practical and fashionable. At British companies like SofaSofa, the products are made using with both cutting edge technology and craftsmanship skills which have been developed and preserved over generations. The result is a fantastic range of elegant and high quality furniture. For your very own piece of history to treasure with the whole family, check out our online catalogue today!
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