Even if you do not know its name or its history, you’ve seen it countless times in the decoration of living rooms of all types of homes and premises: This is Chesterfield sofa, an icon of classic English style.
The origin of Chester, the English classic sofa par excellence, dates back to the early nineteenth century when it was used to set up the exclusive London social clubs where only men were allowed in. Later it happened to the rooms of the houses of the British high society, and from there it became a popular one to become one of the most outstanding symbols of the British decoration of all the times.
Although there are several versions in this respect, legend has it that its name is due to the Fourth Count of Chesterfield, Philip Dormer Stanhope, who commissioned a local cabinetmaker to manufacture a hard and sturdy armchair, with arms and backrest at the same height, to compel them to sit straight to their service personnel, so that their posture and uniforms look good according to the canons of style of the time. According to one account, on his deathbed, the Count’s last words addressed to his footman were “Please, give a seat to Mr. Dayrolles”, a young diplomat, protected and godchild of the Count. The footman, partly tired of the rigidity of the chair and partly interpreting the last words of his lord to the letter, forced the diplomat to take the armchair with him home.
The admiration on the part of the environment of the diplomat caused that the orders of this piece multiplied and thus of its aristocratic origin passed to the bourgeoisie and the wealthy class as symbol of distinction and social status, becoming an essential of the elitist masculine clubs, bankers, offices of lawyers and new riches of Victorian England.
The armchair, an object of perfect purity, in brown leather splashed with large and deep buttons, to which the passage of time only adds a greater attraction, ended up being manufactured soon in sofa version, surviving through the centuries and extending its influence first worldwide in the English colonies thanks to the officers of the British Navy and later in the American society as a nostalgic vestige of his mother country.
The Chester has remained timeless throughout the years, despite having evolved to models and colors more in line with the times, but always with a clear inspiration to the original. Their short legs, their turned arms and the capitoné of the upholstery with buttons sewn by hand are their main signs of identity.
Nowadays, in addition to the boom of retro, vintage and British styles, it is living a second golden age, finding itself outside the classic environments and combining perfectly with contemporary styles. Very present in the decoration of premises of all types, today it can be found in color versions (red, purple or fuchsia), upholstery fabric or velvet and imitations of all kinds.
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