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Sherpa Chairs: Soft Enough

Sherpa chairs deliver like no other when it comes to creating an inviting, cocoon-like space primed for snuggling up and shutting out the world. With its plush, fluffy texture and cloud-like coziness, sherpa upholstery transforms ordinary seating into a sanctuary of warmth and comfort. For the design-savvy decorator looking to inject a dose of luxurious, tactile allure into any interior, the sherpa chair represents the ultimate in casual sophistication and irresistible charm.

sad rugged man sitting on a sherpa chair that looks like a sheep


Sherpa refers to a type of fabric named after the Sherpa people of Nepal, originally used to craft warm, insulated clothing and gear for frigid Himalayan expeditions. Genuine sherpa consists of a suede or smooth knit back with a dense pile of acrylic or polyester on the surface, sometimes blended with natural wool fibers. This unique dual-sided textile mimics shearling or fleece, with a fleecy textured outer face and sturdy woven interior for optimal durability and shape retention.

Quality sherpa upholstery envelopes seating in a downy cocoon of sink-in softness akin to nestling inside a favorite well-worn sweater. The tight loops of spun synthetic or natural yarns stand ½” to 1″ high, creating a deliciously dense, fluffy hand-feel and cloud-like visual texture. Unlike lower-quality imitations prone to crushing or flattening, top-notch sherpa maintains its lofty, plumped appearance over time through meticulous engineering of its looped pile.

While sherpa first gained popularity as a rugged outerwear fabric in the 1930s, its use in upholstery surged in the 1970s as a cozy, informal alternative to stiffer woven textiles. Furniture designers prized sherpa’s weightless volume, supple drape and heavenly texture as the ideal complement to low-slung silhouettes and generously padded forms. The inherently insulating properties and sumptuous feel of premium sherpa chairs made them mainstays of rustic lodges, ski chalets and cozy cottage retreats seeking to foster a warm, welcoming ambiance. Sherpa chairs are the comfy chair nee plus ultra, there’s no getting around this.

Iconic Sherpa Chair Moments in History

One of the most recognizable uses of sherpa upholstery remains the classic bean bag chair, which first burst onto the scene in 1969 and has cemented itself as a groovy hangout staple ever since. The beads-and-sherpa combo provides the ultimate sink-in experience, with the fluffy surface softening the edges as the weightless filling molds itself around occupants. For a sophisticated take on the hippie-chic icon, RH Teen’s Sherpa Bean Bag Sleeper stretches a luxurious ivory pile over an amply-padded, sink-proof insert perfect for curling up in at sleepovers or gaming marathons.

In 1978, acclaimed Italian designer Gianni Pareschi created an avant-garde armchair that would become the new gold standard for statement sherpa seating. Named the Piumino or “duvet” for its enveloping channel-stitched form, the seat debuted with Busnelli and featured striking bright red sherpa stretched over its exaggerated rolled arms and ’70s grid tufting pattern. The design’s cozy yet commanding aesthetic and premium mix of leather and fluffy pile proved an instant hit, solidifying sherpa as stylishly adventurous upholstery pick.

Sherpa swivel chairs also emerged as must-haves for adding a dash of playful, informal ease to dens, dorms and home offices. The 1980s saw a proliferation of pod-like upholstered swivels, such as Milo Baughman’s undulating tilt-and-turn chair for Thayer Coggin. With its fully sherpa-swathed exterior shell, generously padded bucket seat, integrated headrest and 360° rotation base, Baughman’s ahead-of-its-time creation laid the foundation for a whole new category of sculptural seats designed to coddle.

Contemporary Sherpa Stylings

In recent years, the distinctive pillowy texture and sink-right-in appeal of sherpa has experienced a massive resurgence among tastemakers drawn to coziness as the ultimate new luxury. Sherpa-clad recliners, rockers, accent chairs and sectionals now turn up everywhere from minimalist urban lofts to eclectic vacation homes, instantly transforming spaces into immersive, textural retreats made for burrowing into.

Anthropologie’s Lemieux et Cie Cream Sherpa Chair

One standout example is Anthropologie’s Lemieux et Cie Cream Sherpa Egg Chair, which puts a refined spin on cushy wooly comfort. The low-profile frame features etched bronze legs base topped with an ultra-plush ivory sherpa-upholstered seat conjures egg cream dreams as it practically begs you to climb in and stay for a while.

Meanwhile, Arhaus’ wildly popular Luka Sherpa Swivel Chair fully envelops occupants in 360 degrees of fluffy, plush texture. The chair’s undulating curved silhouette, extra-wide dimensions, integrated sock arm and jumbo chenille-covered swivel base come completely swathed in decadent, sink-into sherpa. Available in goes-with-anything shades like Ivory, Linen and Smoke, the Luka makes the perfect cozy-chic accent piece for injecting a touch of ski lodge leisure to any interior.

Care for Your Sherpa Chairs And Your Sherpa Chairs Will Care For You…

To keep sherpa chairs looking and feeling their fluffy, cloud-like best, regular care and cleaning remain essential. Frequent vacuuming using a brush attachment lifts dirt, dust and debris from sherpa’s lofted fibers, preventing matting and clumping. Periodic fluffing by hand also restores the fabric’s signature puffy texture after heavy use.

When spills strike, blot liquids immediately with a clean, dry cloth before spot treating with a mild detergent solution. Always test fabric cleaners on an inconspicuous area first to check for discoloration or damage to the pile. Work suds gently into stains with fingertips, then rinse by blotting with a clean damp cloth until residue is removed. Allow sherpa to dry fully before sitting to maintain its loft and prevent mildew growth.

For tougher stains or overall cleaning, many removable sherpa chair covers can be machine washed in cold water on a delicate cycle with minimal detergent, then air dried or tumble dried on low heat to restore fluffiness. Avoid bleach, fabric softeners, irons and high heat, which can melt or warp synthetic fibers.

Sherpa chairs truly enable creating dreamy, cocoon-like spaces that feel like a hug you can sink into. Their laid-back silhouettes, sumptuous shaggy texture and weightless visual volume embody the new direction of casual-luxe comfort in interior design. With their enduring appeal and wide-ranging possibilities for styling, these fluffy statement pieces prove you can achieve an indulgently elevated, sophisticated look without sacrificing an ounce of cozy charm. So go ahead – nestle into that perfect sherpa perch and let the plush of contentment wash over you.

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