Comet Sofa, Vladimir Kagan Tve always believed in furniture liberated from the walls of а ҐООҐП,” says Vladimir Kagan. “Most of my clients were collectors of art, so they needed to liberate the walls for art work.”

With the Comet Sofa, Kagan continues his decades-long tradition of creating sensuous sofas that sit in the middle of a room and allow for a wide range of seating configurations. “These free-form designs have been the driving force of my designs,” he says. “I like to make something that can be moved, rearranged, and al­lows you to sit in different directions.” The Comet began when Roche Bobois came to Kagan looking for designs that reflected his quintessential design vernacular. “I went to visit them in their Washington, D. C. store,” Kagan recalls. “I brought along a whole suitcase of designs, but all of a sudden, I was inspired and I started to sketch on the train. It just hit right,” he says. “I do well sketching under abnormal circumstances. I work on airplanes, on the corner of a table in somebody’s house—the inspiration hits that way.” He says, “I’m a doodler. I was doodling. I always travel with a roll of tracing paper, so I start drawing at one end and keep going to the other.”

The charge was to make a sofa that had the “Kagan” aesthetic written all over it, but to also make the piece modular so its con­figuration and colors can be customized by the end user. “We came up with this idea of a free-flowing sofa, with a central axis of a chair, and two free-form sofas at either end,” says Kagan. “You can add or subtract color and make it very personal that way. You can customize the piece of furniture.” He points out, “Manufacturers do not want to have a lot of frames and product on a shelf that makes up a collection. This collection has only three SKUs, and they love that. They don’t need to carry a lot of different inventory. You have left and rights and you can drop off the back of the chair so it becomes a pouf. The whole thing is very flexible, yet with a very limited number of elements. The way the furniture pivots around the center round chair, you can open it up and make it a straight sofa or make it very tight and fit in a corner. You can have half in one direction and one in another. It can be ordered without a back, and then it would be a huge, open pouf that would give you seating in all directions.”

Kagan adds, “The serpentine sofa comes from the late 1940s. Every manufacturer wants to license that product, so I have to think how can I give them something like that.” For the Comet, Kagan says, “I worked with the serpentine concept and tried to bring it into the twenty-first century.”

The Comet is made of layers of differing density foam over wooden frames. Roche-Bobois offers it with removable slipcovers in a wide range of fabric choices. “People enjoy it because you can play with it,” says Kagan. “You could do it monochromatic or in quite contrasting colors. It becomes very personal, which is great, because color is very subjective and color is what identifies people.”

140 DESIGN SECRETS: FURNITURE

Comet Sofa, Vladimir Kagan Tve always believed in furniture liberated from the walls of а ҐООҐП,” says Vladimir Kagan. “Most of my clients were collectors of art, so they needed to liberate the walls for art work.”

Comet Sofa, Vladimir Kagan Tve always believed in furniture liberated from the walls of а ҐООҐП,” says Vladimir Kagan. “Most of my clients were collectors of art, so they needed to liberate the walls for art work.”0 Above left: Clay models show the three component parts of a central chair with a sofa that extends off either end like the tail of a comet, hence the name. Credit: Vladimir Kagan

{/ ) Kagan was prepared to show the manufacturer, Roche-Bobois, several design options, but on the train ride to the meeting, began sketching a new idea, which turned into the Comet. Credit: Vladimir Kagan

® When all three parts are used together, the Comet becomes a huge piece, almost 13′ (4 m) feet in length. The pieces can be ordered without backs, so people can sit facing any direction. Credit: Vladimir Kagan

® The Comet is available in a wide range of fabric choices and is made with removable slipcovers over each piece, which allows customers to personalize the sofa. Credit: Vladimir Kagan

Comet Sofa, Vladimir Kagan Tve always believed in furniture liberated from the walls of а ҐООҐП,” says Vladimir Kagan. “Most of my clients were collectors of art, so they needed to liberate the walls for art work.”

Comet Sofa, Vladimir Kagan Tve always believed in furniture liberated from the walls of а ҐООҐП,” says Vladimir Kagan. “Most of my clients were collectors of art, so they needed to liberate the walls for art work.”

Color studies play up the trademark Kagan interest in free-flowing and organic shapes that help get the sofa off the wall and into the center of the room. Credit: Vladimir Kagan

 

Opposite top: The generous proportions, inviting shape, and multi-dimension­ality of the Comet become fully realized in this full-scale prototype.

Credit: Vladimir Kagan

Подпись: Kagan’s interest in furniture design began early in his life and has continued for several decades. “My father was a cabinetmaker, and he needed me to help him in the shop,” Kagan notes. “I studied architecture; I would prefer to be an architect, but necessity and reality drew me to furniture and that’s what stuck. My father was a modernist, a very skilled craftsman,” he says. “He made very boxy stuff. The organic stuff came to me later.” And it came directly from nature itself. “When I was a teenager, my father said, ‘Learn to draw,”’ Kagan recalls. “I wanted to be an artist, and having artistic skills has been helpful. It’s been a very important skill. I would draw from nature and doing so much drawing of nature, I sort of evolved a multilevel feeding of ideas. We would spend our summers in the Catskills, and we would sit on the rocks with the stream flowing through. It was such a wonderful way to sit, and I brought that concept in to the home — I call it interior landscaping.” Kagan’s first pieces of furniture came out in the late 1940s, and many were not only icons in their own time, but are being rediscovered by a whole new generation who are giving them a fresh veneer of hipness. After so many years designing so many sofas, Kagan has no problem going back to the drawing board —or roll Подпись: of tracing paper—and finding yet another way to express his per-sonal design sensibility. “The very limitation is the challenge,” he says. “I compare it to music. There are only so many notes in the scale. But using only those eight notes, think of all the magnificent music that has been written.” He continues, “I am restricted by the anatomy of the human being, which dictates how a piece of furniture has to be made. Working with that very limitation is very challenging and frustrating. Architects can be much more sculptural and much more prima donnas, but they can design a building that doesn’t work. But in a piece of furniture, the restrictions are so limiting that you have to behave yourself.” Unlike some designers who are always trying to reinvent themselves, Kagan also finds ongoing inspiration in his previous works. “I have the pleasure of revisiting myself because I’ve been doing this for so long. I was so far ahead of myself that there are things I’ve neglected. I go through archives with my clients, and what’s in there stimulates my thinking. I don’t like to recycle, I love making new, but you cannot get away from the idea that what goes around, comes around. I don’t reject the past. I embrace the past.”

Opposite bottom: The Comet can be ordered in monochromatic tones, but choosing different colors for each section and component part plays up the sensual lines as well as the piece’s modularity. Credit: Michel Gibert

Comet Sofa, Vladimir Kagan Tve always believed in furniture liberated from the walls of а ҐООҐП,” says Vladimir Kagan. “Most of my clients were collectors of art, so they needed to liberate the walls for art work.”

Comet Sofa, Vladimir Kagan Tve always believed in furniture liberated from the walls of а ҐООҐП,” says Vladimir Kagan. “Most of my clients were collectors of art, so they needed to liberate the walls for art work.”