A history of Pouf Ottomans
Dating all the way to the 18th Century, pouf ottomans have been a part of society and lifestyle for more than two centuries. A part of the culture in Turkey during the time of the great Ottoman Empire, pouf ottomans as a type of furniture was brought back to Europe through trade in the late 1700’s, during which time the word Ottoman and its French Equivalent Ottoman was popularized. A rather odd word for an item of furniture, ottomans have been named most obviously after the empire itself and the name has stuck even though a lot of synonyms have been derived along the way — poufs, haddocks, footstools etc.
In its initial setting during the time of the Ottoman’s, pouf ottomans were used as the central piece of furniture in an arrangement meant for family gatherings and domestic scenes. Probably introduced as a substitute to floor seating and as a compromise between plush thrones and floor mats, ottomans added a dimension of comfort to the lives of the nobles. After its introduction into European society, pouf ottomans were lined along the walls of room as seating. The sections wrapped together and strung into one chain of chairs, the design of pouf ottomans was manipulated to either suit the wall (which served as the backrest) or snugly fit a corner.
As the initial use in Europe was that of wall-lined seating, this tradition grew to accommodate for more comfort — taking octagonal and circular shape, each seat being separated by hand rests, padding or even an occasional planter, screen or table lamp. This trend became a rave — especially in public areas likes clubs, bars, waiting rooms and schools — where not only was the ottoman ideal extra seating, but could also be used for storing tid-bit. This is the trend that grew and fits into our modern day view of pouf ottomans — a lifestyle accessory that is multipurpose and practical.
Growing out of its initial grand size, poufs became more petite and easier to use as accessories and move around from time to time. Its present day uses are similar to its historical ones; quick, easy and hidden storage, additional seating and soft and pudgy resting place for your feet. The change though has come in a poufs decorative use; contemporary interior decoration doesn’t look at pouf ottomans as just another piece of furniture — pouf ottomans are a design statement, a decorative punchline, a way for you to add a little bit of yourself into your home.
Two hundred years ago poufs were used as a part of the royal furnishings, so there is little doubt that they were bejeweled and lavishly embellished with gems, intricate Persian and Turkish designs and precious metals. Today, the words ‘lavishly embellished’ have taken a slightly different turn, and as a pouf ottomans purpose includes living up a room, its visual appeal is of utmost important. You could go old school and stick to the basics of footstool decoration right from the days of the Ottoman rulers or own today’s contemporary strategies of design — but you must own one of these fabulous furnishing pieces to accentuate your home’s décor.