Ottoman Empire

Yes, there is a relationship between footstools, hassocks, tuffets, pouffes and the Ottoman Empire.  The word 'ottoman' also defines an upholstered piece of furniture that can be used as a footrest or as an additional form of backless seating that originally found it's place in Napoleonic France after France invaded Egypt from 1798 - 1801.  Egypt was still under Ottoman rule at the time and the footstool was invented to rest the tortured feet of the weary Egyptians.  Returning to France with his tail between his legs from a thwarted attempt to "rescue" the Egyptians from the oppressive rule of Ottomans and to ultimately colonize them, Napoleon did succeed in bringing back with him and establishing a fabulous new furniture trend which took off in Europe and United States in the 19th Century.  The discovery of such objects of rest and bodily comfort by the Europeans after subsequent trips to the palaces and mosques of Turkey, proved very alluring indeed.

The ottoman historically has it's roots in the Arabic, Balkan and North African countries. The earliest forms of the footstools were low to the ground with no legs and completely upholstered in either fabric or leather.  Traditionally they were used for storage; another concept slightly foreign to the Europeans and Americans. In Turkey, they were designed tall and lean like their head wear.  In Morocco pouffes are generally sold flat to be eventually stuffed (or puffed out) with fabric or newspaper.

For some reason, the ottoman is one of my favorite forms of furniture. It is precious in that it is small, close to the earth and intimate with a more direct physical interaction.  It must have something to do with my Greco-Anglo heritage, but in my mind it is a piece that carries a lot of history, resonating the eventual melding of cultures which was soon to take place with the oncoming mass immigrations in the late 19th century and beyond.

The diversity in form and function of the ottoman makes it a most enchanting addition to any space as far as interior design goes.  For smaller spaces, it proves invaluable in it's capacity for additional seating and storage. Another reason I love this form of upholstered seating is that it gives us the chance to use a fun or boldly designed fabric which can serve as a statement, putting a dash of spice or an accent within the overall design of your space.

I have found a smattering of charming and elegant options for your viewing that are available for purchase and fall within all budget ranges. Whether you are looking to outfit your mansion, apartment or dorm room, I feel sure that there is an ottoman or two out there for you.

Aranda Ottoman/Blue $598

Lewis Ottoman $229

Nassau Ottoman 20" $349

  Reflects starting price - pricing varies according to grade of fabric used. They are available in COM & COL as well.  If you are in the New York City area, drop by the store and ask for Omar or Tony -- they can help you find the right fabric. Tell them I sent you!


Giraffe print faux leather storage ottoman $70.78

Henredon Item #6044-08: Coffee table with 4 ottomans - it's a very popular seller and an amazing design. Prices vary due to grade of fabric. COM and COL available.  To the trade, contact an interior designer or architect for more information. They can contact Lea at the New York showroom for further details on this item.

Madame X Ottoman. Bright Chair Company.  To the trade only.

Moulin Burlap Cube $269

Essex Dhurrie Ottoman-Geo. Sale price: $509

Hogla Woven Stool from Bangladesh $38
from Ten Thousand Villages: a fair trade retailer

Baja Stripe Pouf by Urban Outfitter.
Available online only $109

Liana Spagetti Ottoman by award-winning green design company Pie Studio.

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