The Fairy Tale Story of Ms. Chesterfield, My Newest Sofa

The Fairy Tale Story of Ms. Chesterfield, My Newest Sofa

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Maxwell Ryan
Feb 23, 2017
Here she is, styled in all her warm, modern glory!
(Image credit: Carolina Mariana Rodriguez)

I am so excited to announce the official debut of Ms. Chesterfield, a modern, feminine version of the chunky old Chesterfield. It's also the newest piece in a continued collaboration between Apartment Therapy and Interior Define. I got to see it in Chicago two weeks ago, and it is truly beautiful. I know I gave you all a little sneak peek in my Daily Find Instagram story, but now that we are officially launched I can really dive into the details and inspiration behind this collaboration with more pics below.

The editors here at Apartment Therapy love Chesterfield sofas and Interior Define really wanted one, but I was originally skeptical of being able to give it a new shape - one that would warrant a new production, and which I would be proud of presenting to you.

Shop Ms. Chesterfield Here

Also, I have never liked traditional Chesterfields. They've always seemed stodgy and uncomfortable to sit on, BUT I know they have a great iconic shape. Being a designer at heart, however, I thought I should apply my design thinking and rise to the challenge.

(Image credit: Maxwell Ryan)

Then one day I was looking through a magazine and saw this beautiful picture of a low slung, sexy Italian B&B sofa and inspiration hit. What if I took that look, which I like so much, and which seems so much more contemporary and applied it to the Chesterfield style?

I wasn't sure how I would approach it in form, but the idea stuck and to convince Marta and Rob from Interior Define to go along with me, I wrote this little love letter/fairy tale to them and sent it in an email:

I want to tell you a story about a young, new Chesterfield sofa that was born to the world.

Its mother and father were both traditional Chesterfields, big and round and tall and stuffed.
(Image credit: Maxwell Ryan)

But deep in her heart (yes, she was a girl), she was sportier, more athletic, and longed to be a much more modern sofa. She LOVED the Italian sofas she ran with on the playground because they were so sleek and fast.

(Image credit: B&B Italia)

She loved the loose cushions and the COLOR and the light legs that kept the whole thing low to the ground but still had wide seating. She also liked the humor of some of her European friends.

(Image credit: Maxwell Ryan)

So she trained and trained and, as she grew, she became a beautiful young Chesterfield that the world had never seen. She was long and lean and low in the back with slightly curved arms and a nice wrapped texture a bit like this:

(Image credit: Canvas Home)

And thin, soft cushions on the seat a bit like this:

(Image credit: Montauk Sofa)

And loose throw pillows in the back that stuck up a little bit like this:

(Image credit: Maxwell Ryan)
When her parents looked at her they were proud of their daughter, who was similar but so different, ready to go out into the world and make a name for herself. She was no longer a young girl; she was Ms. Chesterfield.

Well, Marta and Rob loved it and then they challenged me to make it happen... so I made this next (she was at first called Lady Chesterfield) and the real work with the Interior Define designer began....

(Image credit: Maxwell Ryan)

And I also made a few really bad mock-ups like this... But it was a really useful drill.

(Image credit: Maxwell Ryan)

What I discovered was that the idea I had in my mind was very hard to capture for real. I basically destroyed the Chesterfield and the modern thing, and created a few Frankensteins before Diana, their designer, helped me get to sketch paper and work stuff out.

We went through many sketches and renderings, a few of which are here:

Here you can see we were playing with lowering the back, taking some roll out of the arm and lifting it up with thin legs.
(Image credit: Diana Lu Barabe)
Frankenstein One!
(Image credit: Diana Lu Barabe)
OUCH, this looked like it would hurt to sit on!
(Image credit: Diana Lu Barabe)
We went through many sketches and many weeks, until I realized we had to make drastic choices. I asked Diana to straighten out the arms and lift the sofa even more, going for a very modern look. The Chesterfield feeling was going to come in the tufting....
(Image credit: Diana Lu Barabe)
And then we got rid of the seat cushions (too busy) and lowered the back even more... arriving finally HERE....
(Image credit: Diana Lu Barabe)

This rendering above was our last rendering where we all felt good. Then it went to the factory and this was the first prototype they made, which refined it further and also introduced to us some other adjustments to the design we needed to make.

Here was our first view of Ms. Chesterfield after being born :)

(Image credit: Interior Define)
(Image credit: Interior Define)

I could write a whole other post on how I eventually settled on the leg shape, which needed to strike just the right balance between a substantial Chesterfield leg but not be too heavy. It was Marta's idea to add the brass "toe", which I love because I think it gives the whole sofa just a touch of sparkle.

Shop Ms. Chesterfield Here

So now we're DONE and you can see the final version and click through to Interior Define to see all ways you can customize Ms. Chesterfield. THEN you can actually buy one at ID's great prices, and I guarantee you'll be as happy as I am, because Ms. Chesterfield is beautifully made.

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