Joan Dejean delves into the history of furniture:

After so much build-up, sofas naturally provoked some extreme reactions. Some people went sofa-mad and had them in every room of the house, often several to a room. German visitors to the French court, on the other hand, complained that “it no longer looked like a court” because you saw people “stretched out full-length on sofas.” When Horace Walpole quipped that sitting on a sofa was like “lolling in a péché mortel” a mortal sin he was poking fun at some of his fellow countrymen, who worried that overly plush seating might prove a dangerous thing.

Today, some dismiss sofas as banal and overused, while the decorator Nate Berkus says that every living room should be built around the perfect sofa. More than 300 years after Europeans discovered it, the sofa thus remains the one piece of furniture that never simply disappears ...

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to