Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Contemporary look for French 19th Century settees


A little bit of history today.

I would love to tell you some more about a settee, that dates back to the Napoleon III period in France (1852-1870) and that is even suggested by today’s designers : the French ‘borne’. This glamorous, central, social seating arrangement, appearing in the second half of the 19th century, is re-edited and upholstered by designers of today, in a more contemporary way.

But first let me tell you about 2 other settees originating in 19th Century France : the ‘confident’ and the ‘indiscret’.

All these glamorous settees were often seen in French salons, foyers, and boudoirs.


The French confident is an s-shaped arrangement, that seats 2 people who can talk to each other without being disturbed, by sitting almost next to each other and by being face-to-face. It is also named ’vis-à-vis’ ou ’tête-à-tête’.

13French ‘confident’    Image source here


The French indiscret’  is a settee composed of three armchairs multiplied and brought together by a propeller-blade shaped top rail. In general, in this type of seating, the frame is completely covered.The seat allows three people to take place.The third person may be considered to be "intrusive, indiscreet". This is why the seat is given its name.

1 French ‘indiscret’    Image source

2 French ‘indiscret’   Image source here


The ‘borneis a fabulous and stylish piece of seating, round or sectional shaped. It originally was a combination of three sofas with two arms and backed with a triangular base. This base is sometimes topped with a heavy ornamental motif in bronze, ceramic, gilded wood. This decorative element can be a kind of jardinière in which were placed flowers. This kind of seat is completely covered, often with velvet.

10 French ‘borne’   Image source here


11The indiscret and the borne settee at the drawing room of the Napoléon III apartments – The Louvre Paris.   Image source here


12The borne with a jardinière on top. Apartments of Napoléon III – The Louvre Paris   Image source here


Let’s see what today’s designers have made of this famous borne settee.

8 Los Angeles based interior designer Windsor Smith added a borne settee to her home collection.   Image source here


14The borne by designers Julie Massucco Kleiner and Melissa Warner   Image source here


15Fashion designer Tory Burch embellished her boutique in Seoul with a borne seat.   Image source here


6The ‘Baroque’ seat by designer John Hutton for Interna at the Hotel The Dominican in Brussels-Belgium.   Image source here



And what made our Belgian designers of this glamorous settee ?

They stripped the model of its glamour to fit in the humility of our Flemish style and covered it with Belgian linen.

‘Less is more’ !

5Sofa ‘Opera’ by Axel Vervoordt.   Image source here


A perfect combination of this blue linen covered seat with the pure timber.

7 Interior design by Belgian architect Benoit Viaene.   Image source here 


Wishing you a great week !



  1. Thank you for this post. I actually mistakenly thought the "confident" was called a "causeuse" and ignored the name "borne". Talk about teaching a Frenchwoman how to speak French !

    1. Hello Silver Bunny,
      Thank you for your comment! Yes indeed, I do think that actually you are right. It is possible that we can use even the word 'causeuse' for a confident.

    2. Thanks for becoming one of my blog's followers, Greet; I have just reciprocated !

  2. Hello Greet, as I started to read this post, I thought that the Borne settee would definitely not fit in with modern interiors. How wrong I was! They look so glamourous. I particularly like the Windsor Smith image.
    Thanks for sharing Greet, and have a lovely day,
    Liz x

  3. thanks for this + never knew the origin of them + stunning. xxpeggybraswelldesign.com

  4. Amazing post. Only the French could think of such erotic, flirt-provoking chairs :-)

  5. the minimal opera sofa, oui! isn't that lovely?


  6. Dear Greet, I love this design of settee, it is so versatile and updated be perfect for many rooms!

    Feature:Decorate Fearlessly

  7. Its amazing DESIGN !!. Contemporary its so beautiful...