Dreaming, stargazing, and contemplating the results of another project were the genesis of her Crescent Sofa. “I did a very big round rug,” she explains. “The colors were, I think, at least five or six different dark blues. There was a lot of joy and happiness for all these blues to be mixed, because you hardly saw where they changed, but they had influence on each other, and I loved that. In these blues, I designed little stars of beige and gold and they were very small. In the end, this piece was called Milky Way.” She continues, “This sky made me think of the Moon, and I wanted to do something with the Moon. I thought it would be incredibly nice to sit on the milky way of the floor and have the Moon for your body to sit on. You wouldn’t find one person who didn’t recognize the Moon when it starts to open, and it’s that skinny Moon that does not last that long.”
However, instead of creating a delicate crescent that hangs in the distance overhead, Putman brought her moon squarely down to earth. “I decided to make it so that it can be extravagantly big,” she says. And extravagantly shaped. “What is interesting about the shape is that it really steals the show for people,” Putman notes. “I like that expression very much—they steal the show by their shape, these pieces. The curve is very comfortable for the back,” she adds. “The curve was the base of my idea. It has a croissant curve. Only the French could do that.” For all the drama of its size and shape, the Crescent Moon Sofa achieves a feeling of lightness by a cluster of elegant feet that lift it delicately off the floor. “With feet, you have a rectangle or a square, and what I like is to put the feet on the corners of two squares facing each other obliquely,” she explains. “I like that enormously.”
The sofa itself is framed in a slender reveal of wood, and Putman kept the upholstery equally clean. “There is only one cushion for the whole seat, which is very unusual,” she points out. “I like the idea that there are not too many cushions. I have a phobia for so many cushions,” she says. “People like too many cushions to cover up the poverty of their taste. It’s like they’re hiding something.”
Putman’s design process involves bringing other people into her dreaming and storytelling world to create a seamless web of collaboration with the twenty people in her studio. “I work very classically,” she says, and then quickly adds, “I don’t draw very well.
I speak a lot with the people who work here. I describe my vision, and they draw it out. There is no hierarchy. There are no disputes. It’s very serene and wonderful. We believe very much in having fun—we need fun!” She and her team find and share inspirations gathered from a variety of sources. “We may bring in images that we saw that made us laugh or made us emotionally happy with a mix of color or a very strange and amusing idea,” she says. “Of course, we are not going to use it as we find it, but maybe it is introduced in an interesting way, like a humorous detail.”
This mix of traditionalism and playfulness is something new for Putman’s work in sofa design. “I only produce very classic and elegant couches where all the effort was to make them wonderfully comfortable and wonderfully proportioned, but not something with a lot of invention in the sense of shape,” she says. “This one is really eccentric because of its shape. It is daring to have done that. In couches, I like them to disappear in the landscape of a living room, but this one doesn’t disappear. As with many simple things, it appears more and more.”
Ralph Pucci, gallery owner and producer of the Crescent Moon Sofa, agrees. “This is a classic. It’s an iconic piece that is as fresh today as it will be in fifty years. It’s a piece that will not tire, and I wanted the best manufacturing for it.” For Pucci, the best way is the “old-fashioned way. It’s all done in a small shop of just six men who do not rush. It’s all hand done, with coils, a solid oak or mahogany frame, wrapped in cocoa mat, with foam cushions. It’s built layer by layer, like a cake. This sofa will last a lifetime.”
In addition to Putman’s first inspiration of an oversized, 10′ (3 m)- long sofa, the Crescent is now available in 6′ and 8′ (1.8 and 2.4 m)-versions, as well as a club chair. It can be upholstered in leather or almost any fabric a customer wants, but Pucci points out that most often, luxurious fabrics are chosen. “We just did that sofa in a more showy way,” he notes. “The frame was done in gold leaf. It looked very grand, not ornate at all.”
For all its show-stealing qualities, ultimately it is the simplicity of the Crescent that makes it so appealing. “I believe in eclecticism,” says Putman. “I believe you can have a pair of these couches, and just have a simple room with art on the wall and a few things on a table, and you’ll have a very pleasant decor given by the shape of the curves on the sofa. It goes with all kinds of furniture. There is no limitation because of its simplicity.” She adds, “The soft lines count and make it the backbone of a room. It’s logical and easy, neither too sweet nor too austere. It something that brings, strangely, peace into the room because it’s so comfortable for the body and also for the eyes.” A result, no doubt, of the dreamy nature of its design inspiration.
146 DESIGN SECRETS: FURNITURE
s>® The Crescent Moon has grown into a complete line of sofas in lo’, 8′, and 6′ (3, 2.4, 1.8 reversions, as well as a Club Chair. They can be upholstered in any fabric or leather.
Credit: Andree Putman