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During my conversations with interior designers, I've noticed that every so often, universal thoughts being to align, come together, and all agree on the same thing. And lately, all any of them want to talk about is the home office as the most important room, with one simple trick for turning it from a functional place into a creative space. Yes, there's a new trend in home office design, it couldn't be simpler, top designers are doing it, and it improves everything about how you work.
In fact, over the last two years, home office has witnessed a metamorphosis, say Nipa Doshi and Jonathan Levien, founders of international interior design brand Doshi Levien. Interestingly, a thought echoed by Azar Fattahi, co-founder of LALA Reimagined; Eddie Maestri, principal architect at Maestri Studio and Jennifer Morris, founder of JMorris Design, too. No longer a dull, drab, and purely need-based space, what if I told you that all these designers had found the secret to turning it into a place you yearn to be creative in?
Yes, according to all these superstar names, the piece of furniture you really need in your office room is the trusty sofa. The same piece that is usually the crowning glory of the living room and bedroom, has found its place inside this utilitarian room.
Yes, a sofa in the home office is a brand new interior design trend, and here's exactly why.
Why has the sofa become an important design element in the home office?
'The sofa has become the most used and loved piece of furniture since the pandemic,' says Nipa Doshi of Doshi Levien. 'In the last two years, people fell in love with their homes and realized how important their indoor environment is, and a big contributor to putting people at ease was the sofa. This is where people napped, socialized, and even worked. Eventually, people realized that you don't necessarily need that typical office desk and chair in your home office. To be efficient, your workspace doesn't need to look like a factory. It needs to be a functional yet beautiful space. The office has become a fluid room, where the sofa adds style, comfort, and a sense of casual calm.'
Incidentally, the duo has recently launched the new Shaal sofa for Arper, which propagates peace, calm and luxury. The form is a sculptural wraparound, with modular elements upholstered in either leather or textile. 'The most interesting aspect is that the entire piece can be taken apart, and separated for recycling at the end of the furniture's life,' says Jonathan. 'The plywood panels offer the structure and the cushions offer the softness. We wanted to give the sofa a sharp, defined, precise identity. I love the contrast in its design, where the wraparound or curving form meets sharp, precise lines, offering deep comfort and style.'
Whether it's a small home office or a large sprawling space, clearly, as designers claim, the sofa has become a foundational piece.
How can a sofa influence the mood in the room?
Quite simply, a sofa adds a softer, more human touch to the space. 'And such an environment is more conducive to work in as compared to a glass and steel office,' says Nipa. The sofa has also blurred lines between spaces, and what was conventionally considered the right place for a sofa. 'Take Kettal for instance,' says Nipa. 'I now see their outdoor products being used indoors, in offices. The seaters have a more casual feel and have changed the ethos of home offices. This room is more diverse, stylized, comfortable, and casual; a beautiful space to be in.' Adding to that Jonathan says, 'It feels like you're working in Malibu!'
The home office is synonymous with productivity, and the sofa aids in that as well. Away from the usual office desk and chair, the sofa allows you to pull in more quality time at work as it keeps you relaxed and relatively stress-free. 'Sofas give a softer support to the body while you talk on the phone or read,' says Jennifer Morris of JMorris Design. 'Any opportunity for movement can be good when working away at a desk. It can be good to get your neck and body a reset that setting up in a lounging position can afford.'
'The sofa's need and position in a home office evolved dramatically during the pandemic which is the exact time we were designing this office space for Tom Ryan, the CEO & President of Viacom, CBS, and Paramount Streaming,' says Azar Fattahi of LALA Reimagined. 'The home office no longer was a space that was used for short periods; it had to be reimagined to include comfort, connection, and entertainment. He not only hosted very important people in his industry but also hosted his three beautiful children who were also homeschooled at that time. They would take their breaks together as a family and including a sofa in the home office offered them comfort and the ability to connect, communicate and process.'
'We included not only a sofa with a fabric ottoman; but also a built-in bench for an extra communal feel of gathering,' says Azar. 'This home office is designed in the Hollywood Hills, and absolutely has a feel of a holiday. We believe in the art of living, and living well is having the feeling of a holiday no matter where the location is.'
What position, colors and designs should one choose for the sofa?
Eddie Maestri of Maestri Studio says that choosing the right place to position the sofa is of utmost importance as that will affect the mood and feeling it creates. 'Place the sofa close to the window or near a transitional space in a way to maximize views and encourage the idea of a break. Design-wise, I always suggest clean lines and a modern look.'
'I think when you're using the sofa to sit on, rest or sleep on, there has to be a kind of softness and tactility to the piece,' says Nipa. 'And it doesn't mean it needs to be round but there is something about human beings inherently relating to curves. In any case, you don't want sharp corners when you're sitting on a sofa.'
When it comes to colors, Jennifer advises choosing hues to make a bold statement. 'If you sit on red all day, it could make you feel more alert. If you need zen vibes, you could look at cool blues and greys to soothe the senses.'
'I feel people are definitely more comfortable using color, through textiles,' adds Nipa. 'And, people are more confident of their tastes, and this is why spaces are becoming more experimental. Plus, the culture of beautiful homes promoted through social media and awareness has made more people into aesthetes.'
As Jonathan mentioned above, if it's a Malibu or holiday feel you're craving so you can balance your stressful work with a cool space, go light and easy on the decor. And, as opposed to popular opinion, a super relaxed office can encourage effective ways on how to work from home.
'Keep it simple, light, and bright, and use natural materials combined with everyday comfortable pieces in neutrals,' says Eddie. 'Also aim to keep the space uncluttered, but in a carefree manner. Selecting pieces that have closed cabinets or drawers can aid with this as opposed to open shelving that would show distinct organization (or mess!). We want it to look effortless.'
So, a sofa in the home office is the current trend and mood at the moment and rightly so. With work from home still going strong, the need for a more design-forward, calm home office is on everyone's mind. Now you know how to make that happen. Swap your chairs with a sofa, and watch the magic. You're welcome!
The Livingetc Newsletter
For style leaders and design lovers.
Aditi Sharma Maheshwari is an architecture and design journalist with over 10 years of experience. She's worked at some of the leading media houses in India such as Elle Decor, Houzz and Architectural Digest (Condé Nast). Till recently, she was a freelance writer for publications such as Architectural Digest US, House Beautiful, Stir World, Beautiful Homes India among others. In her spare time, she volunteers at animal shelters and other rescue organizations.
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