In 1947 the French designer Jean Royère redecorated his mother’s Paris apartment. The star of his grand redo? A rotund sofa called Boule, covered in a deliciously fuzzy velvet that would later inspire the design’s charming nickname, Ours Polaire—“polar bear.”
The unusual shape—created with a wooden interior skeleton similar to those used in Louis XVI sofas—sent shock waves through Paris when Royère displayed it in Art et Industrie’s exhibition “La Résidence Française.” But soon enough, the orders flew in. Two chair versions were commissioned for the office of the French Minister of Foreign Affairs in Helsinki; the Shah of Iran snapped up several for the dining room and bar of his daughter Shahnaz’s home in Tehran.