Monday, August 12, 2013

Velvety Soft

Something tells me that velvet-covered furniture is an acquired taste. Or, put another way, you either love it or hate it. Personally, I think that velvet upholstered tables and bookcases can be quite sumptuous, but I will admit that velvet furniture can go from tasteful to trashy in the blink of an eye.

First, the velvet that is used can't look too shiny or, even worse, too crushed.  Also, its color needs to be sophisticated rather than garish, so certain shades of red, green, and blue seem to work best.  And finally, embellishment, if used, should be kept to a minimum.  I'm not crazy about most velvet covered tables from the late 19th century because they were usually finished in fringe. (I included an example below just for comparison's sake.)

Of course, the current king of velvet furniture is British designer Alidad, whose signature velvet console table, above, was a hit about six or seven years ago.  Alidad has branched out into velvet enrobed bookcases and occasional tables, too.  But the piece that got this whole blog post rolling is the green velvet bookcase below, which was designed by the great French decorator, Henri Samuel.  Is that a masterpiece or what?!

Green silk velvet covered bookcase, designed by Henri Samuel and sold at Christie's New York, 2001.

A pair of velvet occasional tables, 20th century, sold at Christie's Amsterdam, 2011.

A pair of crimson silk-velvet end tables, sold at Christie's London, 2008.

Gaius bookcase by Alidad

A Napoleon III table, 19th century, part of the Yves Saint Laurent- Pierre Berge collection, sold at Christie's Paris, 2009


  1. My velvet stools were kinda-copied by a big chain, but -- adding insult to injury -- they changed the upholstery to PADDED linen. So, one might argue, they really weren't the same after all. The bookcase is fabulous.

    1. Classicist, Ugh. Indeed, insult to injury. I would think that padding would have made the stools look bloated!

  2. Luxurious and stunning!!

  3. How do you clean a velvet covered table? I would imagine that cats would be permanently banished. Nevertheless, I love the look of these pieces.
    Have a great week.

  4. While I am not a fan of velvet covered furniture- Love that bookcase.

  5. Not a huge fan of velvet covered wood, but that stunning bookcase proves the exception to the rule. In looking it over, I think the allure was Henri Samuels' NOT trying to call obvious attention to the technique, but treating it as a simple finish choice, like a coloured varnish or painted finish. The piece is splendid, and even though it shows wear and age, it seems to promise to look even better with the passage of time. Great post and great eye!

  6. Thomas11:41 AM

    You missed the most famous piece of velvet covered furniture- The green velvet bed at Houghton Hall- one can't imagine how it was done-

  7. Love the bookcase and that console has swirled and curved in my heart for years. The price tag keeps me from committing/buying but have to say I did add brass nail heads to a curvy reproduction English writing table. That oak was so darn hard each nail head had to be pre-drilled.

  8. I'm kind of loving the upholstered pieces although you are right it "can go from tasteful to trashy in the blink of an eye." So it's important to choose pieces very carefully.

  9. As you say, "an acquired taste". I have yet to acquire it!

  10. Love this! I am adding it to my Friday Favorites for tomorrow's blog post.