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Bouclé + Chair: A Modernist Meet-Cute

Bouclé is a material known for making a statement, and few furniture icons make as bold and irresistibly luxurious a statement as the bouclé chair. With its soft, nubby texture and distinctive looped yarn, bouclé upholstery evokes an unmistakable sense of warmth, comfort and casual elegance that has cemented its status as both a passing trend and enduring classic. For the discerning homeowner or designer seeking to create lavish, lived-in spaces dripping with visual and tactile appeal, the bouclé chair stands in a league of its own.

bouclé

Bouclé Origins and Characteristics

While the precise origin of the bouclé fabric is unclear, its name and unique texture stem from the French term boucler, meaning “to curl” or loop. True traditional bouclé consists of looped strands of wool, mohair, cotton or silk, their circlets formed by yarn being double-looped and triple-twisted. From afar, this intricate weaving technique creates a fuzzy, gently pilled effect similar to a plush terry cloth robe or favorite broken-in sweater. But up close, bouclé reveals itself as a tapestry of minuscule yet incredibly nuanced ringed patterns across its highly-textured surface.

This intricate loop stitching gives bouclé yarn a distinctly cozy, nubby hand-feel that looks and drapes luxuriously whether adorning sofas, accent chairs, ottomans, pillows or throws. While many blends exist today incorporating synthetic fibers, the finest and most coveted bouclé upholstery consists of premium natural materials like wool and mohair. These all-natural fibers create a seductively soft, tousled character that seems to grow more sumptuous over time as the fabric’s looped texture catches light and shadows in ever-shifting ways. The delightfully rumpled irregularity and lumpy charm of the genuine article provides that sought-after livable chic every design lover craves.

Bouclé weaves have existed across the world for centuries, finding early popularity in upscale rugs, tapestries, and garments. But it wasn’t until the mid-century modern movement of the 1940s through 1960s that the upholstery truly emerged as an icon of interior design. In those decades, European furniture designers began experimenting with the lush, nubby fabric to reimagine cozy, casual seating and accent pieces for the modern household. The intrinsic pillowed softness and dynamic visual texture of quality bouclé offered the perfect plush respite for weary homeowners, who sought out impeccably cozy yet stylishly-appointed living spaces in which to relax.

Midcentury Bouclé Innovations

In the late 1940s, Danish furniture icon Arne Jacobsen crafted one of the earliest and most revolutionary bouclé chairs of the era with his striking Egg chair. With its oversized curved half-oval shape swathed in lush bouclé upholstery, the Egg chair represented a true feat of avant-garde design. The thick, cushy textile proved the ideal complement to the sculptural, cocoon-like shape, transforming what could have been a stark piece into a supremely comfortable oasis begging to be lounged upon for hours. Over seven decades later, the Egg chair continues setting the aesthetic standard for bouclé chairs worldwid

In 1951, Italian designer Guilio Mosconi expanded on the trend in his design for the Ardenza lounge chair. Defined by its curvaceous walnut-and-beech frame crafted from 30 individual wood pieces, the Ardenza stood out with its channeled upholstery and oversized semi-circular shape optimized for casual reclined seating. Vintage pieces remain highly coveted by mid-mod collectors, with the Ardenza’s iconic winged channels transcending styles to complement both retro and contemporary spaces.

Not to be outdone, the legendary husband-and-wife design duo of Charles and Ray Eames introduced their groundbreaking bouclé lounge chair in 1956. With sleek molded plywood shells upholstered in thick, nubby bouclé stretched over aluminum frames, the Eames loungers catapulted the cozy fabric to new heights of exponential popularity and desirability. Hoisted on chic wood-dowel bases, each chair combined the unmistakably comfortable texture with the signature modern minimalist lines and premium craftsmanship the Eameses were known for.

The Rise of The Modern Chair

While the mid-century aesthetic never truly disappeared, renewed fervor for all things retro sparked a massive bouclé chair renaissance in the late 20th and early 21st century. Leading furniture design houses began reviving and reinterpreting historic chair silhouettes originally pioneered decades earlier. These launched a new wave of high-style yet cozy chairs swathed in the sumptuous, nubby textile from head to toe.

In 2007, luxury British furniture maker RM Living wowed the design world with their reimagined Beau lounge chair update on classic barrel styling. Combining stately shapes with a casual-cool aesthetic, the Beau embodied pure bouclé indulgence through its hand-knotted wool upholstery and low-slung, extra-wide seating designed to envelope occupants in plush comfort. Offered in sophisticated muted colorways including dove grey, oatmeal, or inky noir, the Beau seduced with its textural plush surface and cosseting, slipper-like embrace.

More recently, the 2019 Camino bouclé chair from Sixpenny rocked the design world with its irresistible “knitted” fabric outer shell. Available in alabaster white or charcoal grey, the Camino represents the epitome of 21st century stylings, reimagined as a distinctive pod-style lounge designed for optimal hunkering down and curling up. Its heavy lined tub shape provides supreme cozy vibes, while amplifying the nubby weave across its spacious curves and plump cushion centrepiece.

Iconic Bouclé Moments

Beyond residential spaces, standout bouclé chairs have also made statements everywhere from movies to music videos to pop culture photoshoots. The exquisitely textured fabric became a canvas for boudoir-inspired glamour in famed French fashion designer Coco Chanel’s 31 Rue Cambon apartment, which featured sumptuous dove grey sofas and chairs upholstered in her signature quilted desig

Legendary photographer Terry Richardson used a vintage bouclé swivel chair as the centerpiece to his famed 2015 Playboy magazine cover shoot featuring ’90s supermodel Naomi Campbell posed alluringly in no-nonsense black knits. More recently, the officially-blessed Playboy bouclé chair reemerged in influencer Jordyn Woods’ steamy 2020 homage photoshoot, cementing the seat’s status symbol for lush, retro-inflected sensuality.

Whether outfitting a hotel lobby, swinging bachelor pad or upscale salon, bouclé chairs truly elevate ordinary rooms into immersive tactile, sensory experiences. Their pillowy-soft cloud-like cushions exude an unmistakable aura of restrained glamour, while their textural loops and fuzzy pilling whisper quiet charisma. No longer relegated strictly to lounges, family spaces or mid-mod flight of fancy, the signature nubby weave has become as covetable as ever for style-conscious designers seeking to envelope spaces with plush ease and irresistible comfort.

ardenza, boucle, bouclé, eames lounge, egg chair, playboy, sixpenny

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