Reader Question: What is that style name?

Anne wrote in asking me if I knew if there was an official name for this type of 360 degree sofa that has been a staple of gathering rooms, hotels, theaters etc. They were particularly popular during the late Victorian period, but have been around much longer and are still used, in differing shapes and styles.

Architectural Digest Emmy Green Room, 2006, designers Matthew White and Frank Webb
The White House East Room, circa 1900, image courtesy of New York Public Library
The White House Blue Room, circa 1855, computer generated image courtesy Conde Nast

So the question is – is there a name for this style? I’ve done research and can’t come up with anything more descriptive than “circular foyer sofa”. Anyone know?

xoxo Linda Would you like my Favorite Tips for a Well-Decorated Home? Click here!

4 thoughts on “Reader Question: What is that style name?

  1. Diana Phipps in her book, Affordable Splendor, c.1981 gives several names for this piece of furniture. She calls it a “conversation” or ” the ‘indiscret,’ the ‘flirtation,’ the ‘vis-a-vis,’ the ‘confidente,’. . . depending on the amount of people it will seat and the nationality of the person talking about it.” p. 39. She says the large ones were mainstays in hotel lobbies, and often had palms in the center. She goes on to describe how she would build one from scratch if she needed to, from plywood and foam rubber. This was the first decorating book I ever bought for myself, and it still is amazing and entertaining.

  2. Sulymo – thanks for the tip on the book – sounds like a good one and thanks Tricia for your input.

    See, for me, a “conversation” sofa is one that bring people face to face – a la an inverted round sofa, or a pushme-pullyou kind of kissing sofa where the two people sit opposite, but can look at each other face to face. These full round circle sofa’s actually mean that both parties have to sit slightly sideways to face one another – even more so than a straight sofa. I guess, however, that that makes for a more private conversation, if you assume there are several pairs of people conversing, ultimately, there is more privacy where they are turned away from each other. But, then, not more than two people could converse together comfortably.

    But, it is looking like “conversation” sofa is the understood name.

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