The Furniture That We Love (Or Is It Whom?)


As a professor, I have led a fairly sedentary life. I would say that I have a reader’s physique, but I suspect that there are many thin readers—people who can read for hours without having bags or bowls of snacks within arm’s reach. Indeed, it might be a fair question to ask whether I at least sometimes read in order to justify snacking.

If I have always been somewhat sedentary, I have found that, as I age, I am becoming much more cognizant of chairs. Although, unlike Clint Eastwood, I have not yet begun to talk directly to chairs, I have become much more attentive to all aspects of their being, from their physical appearance to the more subtle characteristics that become apparent only after one has really settled into them. Once or twice, I have caught myself saying out loud to an otherwise empty room, “My God, this is one extremely comfortable chair.”

Several years ago, I purchased a “Big Boy Recliner,” and I have subsequently referred to it, many more times than once, as the “best furniture purchase that I have ever made.”

This photo gives you some idea of the relative sizes of an “average” recliner and this particular type of recliner:

Normal and Big Boy Recliners

Although the recliner is conspicuously out of scale with the rest of the furniture in our living room, I did manage to get it in a fabric that more or less complements the fabric on the sofa and love seat. (Yes, my wife is sometimes very indulgent.)

As I was doing a Google image search on the recliner, I discovered that the color of the fabric on my recliner is called “Godiva.” I was very puzzled until I did a further search and realized that Godiva is the name of a well-known brand of chocolates. Imagine that—I need a “Big Boy Recliner” but I apparently don’t eat as much chocolate as one might reasonably suppose that I would. Or perhaps I simply don’t pay very close attention to the wrappers.

In any case, this whole reflection on chairs was spurred by the following brief item in USA Today; written by Mary Bowerman, it is titled “Lonely? This Chair Will Hug You Back”:

“There’s nothing like coming home and wrapping yourself in the arms of a loved one . . . or a bizarre-looking chair.

“Don’t have anyone to hold? No worries.

“South Korean designer Lee Eun Kyoung created a furry sofa with soft flexible arms, which are meant to give the feeling of being held by a loved one.

“Stretched out, the chair looks like a person, waiting to hug you, Kyoung told the A’Design Award committee []. ‘Because the sofa gives the feeling of being alive, it will hold you warm and soft like your mother, friend, and a lover without feeling lonely.’

“The unique sofa, which has detachable arms, won an A’ Design Award in the Furniture, Decorative Items and Homeware Design Award Category, according to a March 28 statement.

“The ‘free hug sofa’ took two years to create, according to the statement.”

Here is a photo of the “free hug sofa”:

Free Hug Sofa 1

And here is a photo of one that is occupied:

Free Hug Sofa 2

At first, this news item made me suddenly question whether my attachment to my recliner might not be somewhat aberrant.

But the more I looked at the woman wrapped in this sofa, the more confident I became that my attachment to my recliner is relatively chaste, if not completely platonic.



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