Work From Home is a new vertical dedicated to life and culture in the strange and unprecedented situation of self-quarantine that many of us are dealing with right now. From what to watch to how to get a fit off and how to not think about anything, this is our guide to the great indoors. For updates on the spread of Covid-19 and how to keep yourself safe and informed, consult WHO and the CDC.
Furniture, like almost everything else in life, can get emotional after a while. There’s such a thing as spending too much time together. A so-so couch can get ignored when there are places to be, but becomes an eyesore after a week hunkered down at home — not to mention incredibly uncomfortable after a while. Luckily, it’s not a life sentence: you can always switch up your rooms up if you don’t like what’s in them. Although it's not a great time to go outside with social distancing and self-quarantining in effect, but virtual shopping is safe, easy, and enjoyable. Some of the best couches are available online — in auctions, at design stores, or on furniture re-selling platforms. Here are a handful that might work better than what you have now and will come in handy when those WFH days stack up.
In the last year, the furniture vanguard has moved from strict mid-modernism to poppier, expressive 1970s shapes. Think Debi Mazar’s Goodfellas character’s ‘70s apartment with its chrome and brushed glass. Fun place. What this means is mid-modern furniture is cheaper now than it’s been in decades. So why not get something informed by both eras? This Eames Herman Miller sofa, with Soft Pads, is a perfect melange of strict ‘50s shapes and ‘70s comfort, and was produced in 1967. (Like a lot of Eames stuff, it was ahead of its time.) The HM Eames might not be cutting edge now, but who needs that? It’s pitch perfect — not cheap but a timeless investment nonetheless.
Bi-Rite in Greenpoint is one of the better furniture stores in America, with a heavy focus on 1970s Italian furniture, though not limited by that era of design. Even if you don’t have a knot with which to buy the two couches above, Bi-Rite can still help with their nice inventory of affordable lamps and accessories. But the best deal in the shop might be this unbranded 1970s couch: wild, super bright, and simply designed and of no particular brand. It’s pretty fair at $2,500 and is more chic than almost any sofa at that price in a store elsewhere. Why’s that? Off-brand pieces are less collectable, so their values aren’t inflated, but they’re just about as well-made, and often as well-designed. In this case, all you’re paying for is how good it is.
This is honestly the nicest couch under $1,000 in America, and it’s half that price. Urban Outfitters occasionally stocks well — they were lousy with big tag Patagonia a decade ago — but it’s not exactly a furniture destination. And yet, here they are with a simple, welcoming sofa that’s better designed (and cheaper!) than almost all its retail competition. There are a couple reasons why it succeeds for so cheap. There’s the design; it’s easier to make a 1970s-style unstructured sofa than to be like most stores and replicate a mid-century Danish couch, which are too defined by their craftsmanship to be done on the cheap. Then there’s the material; the fabric somehow looks like a pair of Issey Miyake Plisse pants, a choice that works better than more traditional cheap fabrics. No one’s going to mistake this for a Toga, but that’s not what this is about. Good for UO. Caveat emptor though: the couch is online only, so who knows if it’s up to your comfort level.
I like the idea of outdoor couches indoors since they serve the same aesthetic function as tactical clothing in non-tactical situations. The world got a little easier when it became okay to wear Carhartt in cities with two baseball teams. Cheap, well-designed and a statement, the tradeoff here is comfort. There are still rules, though. This weird fake hammock needs to be a counterpoint to a room full of nice, comfortable, actual furniture.
An important and elegant French couch from 1947 that goes for about a million dollars, you can cut half a million off the sticker price if you get it in red. Does that still make it a “Polar Bear?” Hard to say. Kanye West and Ellen DeGeneres each have the original artifact in white, as did the Shah of Iran. Only about 150 were made. One silver lining to social distancing, if you’re privileged enough to be working, is it can save you money in the long run — no vacations, no going to the bar or restaurants, wearing the same cotton jumpsuit every day.