Sofas: From Ancient to Modern...

In the previous edition of the Russkell Furniture blog, we took a look at the interesting history of swivel chairs. We continue our journey into the past in this article, where we trace the development of the sofa from its early beginnings right up to the present day.

The first descriptions and depictions of sofas date back thousands of years to the Ancient Egyptian civilisation. Though primitive by today's standards, these early sofas were in fact considered a luxury and were only owned by extremely wealthy people such as the Pharaohs. Ordinary folk would have to use a stone bench called a 'suffah', from which the modern word 'sofa' is derived.

The Ancient Romans revived the popularity of the sofa but, as in Egypt, the furniture was reserved only for the rich and powerful with those less fortunate once again relegated to stone or wooden benches. The Dark Ages began when the Roman Empire finally collapsed in the 5th century and the sofa fell with it, not to reappear until centuries later.

In the latter part of the 16th century, craftsmen in Europe began the process of reviving the sofa, considering it to be an excellent addition to new techniques of house building that rendered the structure weatherproof. Sofas were still only accessible to the rich though they were stuffed with many unappealing materials including moss, hay and horse hair.

It was not until the onset of the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century that sofas became widely accessible thanks to new technologies such as sewing machines and increased availability of steel to create springs. Sofas became both more affordable and more comfortable, leading to them being a regular feature of most households. 

Today, a sofa is an indispensable piece of furniture. Though technology has improved and there are many different materials to use, modern sofas still look to the past for design inspiration but add a contemporary twist. In addition, many the skills developed by early makers of furniture have not fundamentally changed but have simply been improved. 

The team of skilled artisans here at Russkell Furniture utilise these traditional skills in conjunction with fabrics, timber and metals of superlative quality to create luxurious handmade sofas. Please browse our extensive collection and do not hesitate to get in touch with our team if you have any questions or need expert advice.

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