Leather Goods (and Bads): The Great Furniture Debate


Mies van der Rohe and Lilly Reich’s Barcelona Chairs, in situ. Photo by Eirik Johnson via Metropolis.

Leather furniture is a bit of flashpoint for the decor-obsessed. There are the ethical concerns—leather furniture and other leather goods require the slaughter of animals for their skins. But whether you’re a “vegan leather” supporter or a leather leather supporter, the fact remains: leather furniture is just not to the stylistic taste of some. (For the record, the Curbed editors are bitterly divided.) This editor would argue that there are exceptions to every rule, and for each chunky, tufted Chesterfield or bloated, baggy leather “couch” from a big-box store, there is an elegant counterpoint to be found in the graceful lines of the Barcelona chair—designed by Mies van der Rohe and Lilly Reich—or the casual chicness of a leather sling chair.

Some argue that leather furniture is unsuitable for human use because, let’s face it, we sweat and leather is unforgiving when it comes to issues of body heat. To that we say: what of woven-leather furniture? (From personal experience, we can say it allows for a bit more ventilation.) And how often do you find yourself totally unclothed on your furniture, anyway? We’re not advocating for leather bedding here.

Now, there is such a thing as too much leather. We wouldn’t advise overdoing it (or any decor trend, really). But leather furniture, whether vegan or otherwise, can add some nice texture to an interior. So, what do you think? Vote in our poll below and sound off on all things leather furniture (including where you fall on the animal leather vs. vegan leather debate) in the comments below!

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This mental image is likely what deters leather-furniture haters who hate on aesthetic grounds.

Hard to leave some mornings.

A photo posted by Matt Pierce (@woodandfaulk) on

A very nice leather armchair in the gorgeous home of Portland, Oregon-based creative and furniture retailer Matt Pierce.

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A dark-gray leather loveseat in a home in Zeeland, The Netherlands. Photo via Christie’s International Real Estate.

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A leather Chesterfield sofa. Not this editor’s favorite kind of leather furniture. Photo via Flickr.

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