Soft lines appeal to consumers’ need for nature and nurture

After a couple of years of pandemic, political upheaval, natural disasters, war and countless other nerve-fraying events, consumers are looking for a soft place to land.

Furniture and accessories designers are responding by literally taking the edge off, say, rounding the sharp corners of case goods or substituting cylindrical legs for their stridently squared cousins. Upholstery sources are offering voluptuous sofas and chairs. These are pieces that soothe souls and cradle bodies, and retailers and interior designers shopping the High Point Market April 2-6 will find plenty of them.


We’re not talking about cozy, cottage core. The Curves Ahead pieces are sleek and modern but decidedly soft, with clean, albeit curving, lines. Many are also biophilic, responding to a consumer need to embrace the living world and blur the boundary between indoors and outdoors. American Leather notes that many of the chairs and sofas among its High Point introductions feature “free-flowing shapes reminiscent of forms found in nature” with earthy tones and tactile, natural fabrics. Its Nicholas chair combines exposed pecan wood with legs in a natural finish and a “free flowing shape” for a warm, nature-inspired design.

Or consider the new Ripple diptych from Natural Curiosities Art House + Design Studio, a contemplative study of rippling water that the company describes as “forever celebrating the magic of water’s movement and reflection.”

In our increasingly tech-oriented, screen-centered world, humans crave fresh air, flora and fauna — and lines that mimic meandering streams and arching branches — to balance us out.

Ripple diptych from Natural Curiosities Art House + Design Studio

The Maser chandelier is part of the trend curve at Arteriors. Its arches are the perfect support for the white glass globes, giving the piece a modern yet celestial feel. In the company’s Ova sconce, teardrop-shaped strands in a matte bronze finish cradle its single globe.

Maser chandelier from Arteriors
Ova sconce from Arteriors

Sarreid offers a softer, even sexy take on midcentury modern with the Jonas wine cupboard, featuring rounded edges and a weathered stone gray or antique white finish. The textured vertical ribbing adds interest but also a meditative quality through the use of the repeated lines.

Jonas wine cupboard from Sarreid

There’s psychology behind the appeal of these silhouettes, of course. Studies have shown a human preference for curves over straight lines when researchers ask people to compare the two. And brain imaging has shown we respond differently when looking at ovals and circles than when viewing squares and other angled edges. The theory is that sharp things (thorns, claws, knives) represent danger. Arches and curves (our mother’s arms, a loved one’s face) represent nurturing and security — or so our brains have evolved to see difference between the two.

So, it makes sense that when the world is feeling like a dangerous place, consumers will gravitate toward the comfort of curves.

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There are plenty of appealing curves in the latest introductions from Moe’s. The natural, teardrop-shaped tabletop of the Appro dining table balances the dramatic angles of the plank legs, all made of solid white oak. Another curvy Moe’s standout: the low-slung Sigge accent chair (available in two colorways) with cushion-back seating atop the rounded rubberwood frame.

Appro dining table from Moe’s
Sigge accent chair from Moe’s

Sometimes the curves are even more subtle. Jay Jeffers is launching his third collection for Arteriors during the High Point Market. Among the 28 pieces is the Cantu cabinet in matte ebony finish. The rounded edges add a soft counterpoint to the angles of the base.

Universal Furniture added subtle curves to its white-oak finish Sischo bench, part of its Nomad collection, launched last fall. Upturned edges nestle the seat cushion — and, by extension, anyone taking a pause on the bench. The soft, textural fabric is a shade of sheepskin, and the rounded edges of the slab legs complement the seat design.

Sischo bench from Universal
Alais sofa from Nathan Anthony Furniture x Tina Nicole x Sahara Novotna

And then there are the exaggerated, hugging lines of a plush sofa emerging from a Nathan Anthony Furniture x Tina Nicole x Sahara Novotna collaboration. Furniture designer Tina Nicole and multimedia artist Sahara Novotna designed the sofa. Part of the Alais collection, the Rubenesque piece is upholstered in a deep green Italian velvet fabric, with dramatic resin ball feet.

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