Couches usually serve as the focal point of design in our homes, yet they are more often than not overlooked and not given much thought. When we purchase cheap couches for sale for our homes, we are not always aware of the interesting history that has followed and shaped them through the centuries. In just a few minutes of reading, learn a brief history lesson about the origin of cheap couches for sale.
Cheap couches for sale: the backstory
In the late 1800s, renowned architect Louis Sullivan coined the famous axiom ‘form follows function’. Couches are arguably the most pertinent example of balance between form and function in design. The design of a couch clearly expresses its purpose, as they represent the most empirical elements of ergonomic furniture design – a seat supports the lower body, and a backrest supports the upper. Nothing more and nothing less, and his is precisely why there have always been cheap couches for sale, even during the Italian renaissance of the 15th century.
Couches have forever been a household necessity. People are social creatures – working hard during daylight hours and relaxing thereafter and it is therefore not in the least surprising that couches were one of the earliest forms of furniture conceived. This means we have pleasure of tracking the development of this household fixture through every major art movement and social paradigm shift in our history. One could even trace the origin of its design back to raised flat surfaces of caves generously lined with animal hide.
Couches are arguably a part of our history as human beings. If one had to view couches through the lens of biomimicry, they would be directly comparable to the nests of animals. We eat on them, we sleep on them, and we curl-up and cuddle on them. For architects and artists alike, they have always served as an opportunity to respond to the state of the times. This has led to some incredibly innovative designs over the centuries – which we’ve had the joy of analysing in the bulk of this article.
Medieval Period of cheap couches for sale
Save for the aforementioned subterranean futons, the first significant examples of couch-like furniture (designed with intent) came from the Medieval period. Although it is unlikely that the hardy folk of this era spent hours of the day lounging around in carefully curated living rooms, the few that could spared no expense when it came to interior-design. It’s clear that the monarchs and clergyman of 1200s lived in sheer luxury – sitting atop thrones carved from oak and padded with straw-filled leather. The medieval period saw the years in which furniture really began to develop its modern characteristics.
Medieval furniture was primarily made of hardwood as it was readily accessible, structurally sound, and highly durable. In a sense, the most rudimentary form of couch is the bench, which of course served as the most common form of furniture in the homes of this time. These benches were simple constructions – two upright elements supporting a thicker horizontal element, braced with smaller timber beam underneath. These were often decorated with elaborate carvings, drastically varying in design from culture to culture and certainly could be comparable to the cheap couches for sale we have in our time in terms of cost and widespread use.
The sumptuous aesthetic of the Renaissance is also one of the most recognisable. The Renaissance is most often described as the fervent period of European cultural, artistic, political, and economic “rebirth”. Taking place between the 14th and 17th centuries, the Renaissance promoted the rediscovery of classical philosophy, literature, and art – which of course radically influenced the design of furniture and cheap couches for sale. Renaissance furniture was first produced in Rome during the 1600s.
Trade brought wealth to Italy, and the expanding middle-class could now afford larger and more luxurious housing. This greatly increased the demand for high-quality furniture at a greater scale. Renaissance furniture had a strong architectural sense, conforming to the principles of architectonic design. The artists and architects sought to design furniture which overtly expressed all its individual components and connections.
Artisans from other countries would even travel to Italy to learn the techniques required to produce these intricate works – allowing for the spread of the Renaissance style throughout Europe. Furniture was also seen as a symbol of social status. Pieces like beds and couches were indicative of great wealth, and so they were designed with rich detail. The ‘couches’ were often large, constructed with an ornately-carved timber frame.
They often featured floral patterns that represented the beauty of the natural world. Staying true to tectonic design, every connection point (such as where the foot meets the leg, or the leg meets the base) would be thoroughly articulated. The padding of the furniture consisted of stuffed red velvet sections fastened with buttons at equidistant intervals in a diamond pattern. In the most opulent of these designs, the backrest of the couch would curl backwards – adding another layer of design complexity, and further promoting one’s social status.
Baroque & Rococo
The centuries following the renaissance actually did not see many cheap couches for sale. In the early 18th century, the Baroque style began to fully develop. Both Baroque architecture and furniture utilised contrast, movement, intricate detail, rich colour, and decorative grandeur to achieve a sense of awe. Recurring motifs used in the designs of Baroque furniture include cornucopias, cherubs, lions, feminine faces, wreaths, shells, and other mythological imagery.
Like the couches of the Renaissance, Baroque furniture had a tectonic design approach. Every element of the piece would be clearly expressed – borrowing design techniques from the architecture of classical Greece. Ornamentation in architecture and interior design would soon become somewhat of an obsession – allowing for the development of styles such as ‘Rococo’. Rococo represents the height of opulence in architectural history.
It is a highly ornamental and theatrical style of architecture, art, and design. Rococo uses asymmetry, scrolling curves, white and pastel colours, and dynamic sculptural elements to elicit a sense of wonder and the impression of motion and drama. A variety of woods would be used in each Rococo furniture piece, to signify wealth and higher level of craftsmanship. Rosewood and mahogany were popular materials among carpenters of the time, and motifs similar to those seen in Baroque furniture would be carved into these fine woods.
Art Nouveau was a style that sought to respond to the imitative historicism movements seen in previous art and architectural movements. The style was very popular in late 19th and early 20th centuries in both Europe and America. It is immediately recognisable through its use of a long, sinuous, and organic shapes and patterns which were often demarcated with bold outline. The Art Nouveau style strongly influenced the architecture designed at the time, both structurally and aesthetically. In furniture, elements like the bracing of couch legs and the frames of backrests took on curved, organic forms.
The early 20th century saw a massive social paradigm shift, in which rapidly expanding industry governed the design of the modern world. Art Deco was a response to the previous architectural movements that maximised ornamentation and symbolism in design. The artists and architects of the Art Deco movement sought to strip architecture and furniture of all unnecessary ornamentation – reducing their designs to their most empirical form. Clean lines and bold geometric patterns swiftly replaced the organic shapes of the Baroque and Art Nouveau periods; columns became clean structural tubes, and chairs became simplistic expressions of four legs, a seat, and a backrest.
Art Deco furniture represents the first bridge into Modernist interior design. One can clearly observe the roots of today’s contemporary furniture in the designs of Art Deco couches. The diamond pattern buttons were still popular at this stage, but were occasionally replaced with stuffed compartments joined at angled seams. Traditional materials, such as woods, were still employed around this time – as carpenters could juxtapose their tones to create bolder geometric patterns on various panels in the furniture.
For the first time, supporting elements such as couch legs and feet were no longer elaborately expressed. Instead, they became ‘background elements’ – intentionally designed to be minimalistic to emphasis the main body of the couch. The Art Deco period paved the way for the biggest paradigm shift in the history of design – Modernism.
Modernism is an approach to design born out of the extensive transformations occurring in Western society during the early 20th century. The development of new technology, transport systems, and industrial practices, and structural materials prompted artists and architects to design for the world that was rapidly changing before them. The wake of the second world war promoted ideals of cutting excess, commodification, and pragmatic use of materials and other resources. This of course massively influenced the aesthetic of furniture at the time.
Modernism represents the largest and final departure from all ornamental design approaches that came before it. There was an opposition to the decorative arts, which included Art Nouveau, Neoclassical, and Victorian styles. Intricate carvings, rich and deeply coloured woods, and finely patterned fabrics were substituted for clean minimalism, geometric forms, and striking materials such as polished metal and black leather. Generally speaking, Modernism saw the promotion of furniture designs from being heavy in appearance to being visually light.
The father of modern furniture is arguably the German-born American architect – Mies van der Rohe. Van der Rohe was one of the pioneers of Modern architecture, but he also produced arguably the most recognisable piece of furniture of all time – the Barcelona Chair. If Van Der Rohe is the father of Modernism, then the Barcelona chair the grandfather of today’s couches. The chair was designed for the architect’s exhibition of the ‘German Pavilion’ at the International Exposition of 1929.
Although it was designed only 20 years after the Baroque period finally ended, the aesthetics look as though they were designed centuries apart. The Barcelona Chair had a completely original form – curved steel ‘x-brace’ legs supporting two foam-filled leather cushions slightly angled to maximise ergonomic efficiency. Polished steel and jet-black leather are the only visible materials – juxtaposing each other in way that creates striking dynamism with the curved forms of the legs. This approach to furniture design was widely adopted throughout the greater part of 20th century, and is making a resurgence today in couches.
Today’s furniture and cheap couches for sale generally fall into the category of ‘contemporary design’. However, contemporary design doesn’t actually refer to a specific movement. The approach embraces the generally aesthetic of our day, which is ever changing as a result of touchpoints like social media providing us with constant streams of information. This makes the definition fluid.
Contemporary design is frequently confused with Modernism, and this is understandable. Modernist design is seeing a substantial revival today seeing as mid-century modern furniture has once again become a first-choice for the interior designers of today’s homes. This is because Modernism and the general contemporary approach both embrace minimalism and simplicity, and reject unnecessary ornamentation.
In the end, cheap couches for sale prevail
There is one constant that endures still – the fact that cheap couches for sale will always be in demand and enjoyed by those who appreciate low costs and high function as well as long-lasting quality (especially when buying them online through 5Star Furniture, who ensures quality over all).