The Man behind the Marshmallow Sofa Passes Away

September 16, 2015

Designer Irving Harper recently passed away at the age of 99 at his home in Rye, New York of kidney failure.  He cemented his place in modern design furniture history by his contributions to the Pop Art furniture movement, creating classics like the sunburst clock and the marshmallow sofa.  Even though his designs remain iconic, Harper remained a relatively obscure figure in furniture design.

From 1947 to 1963 Harper worked alongside George Nelson as an industrial designer for Herman Miller, although his work was credited largely to Nelson.  Despite flying below the radar, Harper's works were featured in some of the country's largest events, including the World's Fairs in New York in 1939 and 1964.  His work was also found in various department store interiors, and it was Harper who handled designing the distinctive Herman Miller company logo.  During his free time, he would also create elaborate paperboard and balsa wood animal sculptures.

Even with all of these accomplishments, Harper's crowning achievement was arguably the marshmallow sofa, conceived when he decided to assemble eighteen upholstered discs onto a 52-inch frame.  Back when it was first sold through the Herman Miller company catalog, the sofa was priced at $452.  Today, this same sofa commands an asking price of $5,499 and is available in more than ten different colors.  To this day, the company still reinforces that the marshmallow sofa is, in fact, very comfortable.

Irving Harper's legacy and influence on modern sofas and the furniture industry will never be forgotten. Visit CA Modern Home to see other pieces inspired by furniture designers like him or call us today for more information at 800.605.1859.

Jesse Brody
Jesse Brody


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