Fainting Moments | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

http://myatozchallenge.com/2012/02/20/welcome-to-my-a-to-z-challenge-2/Welcome to my personal A to Z Challenge on the subject of Home. The goal, in a year time, until Jan. 13, 2014, is to elaborate and dissect topics regarding the Home not as containers of stuff, but as a cocoon for the soul, mind, and heart. I will touch on decorations, style, trends, history of the home and sometimes technical information.

What do the Récamier, Méridienne and Fainting Sofa have in common? Three reclining chairs of the past and present home décor that have in common one idea: Relaxation. The ancient population understood the benefits of relaxation and included it in their daily life.

(Click on each photo to view it larger)

(Above https://www.studyblue.com)

For Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans the idea of relaxing often on the ‘kline’ – a type of day beds – was part of the daily routine as early as the 8th century BC. The modern Greek word ‘symposium’ means ‘to drink together’ in a party atmosphere with music and conversation while even conducting business. The Romans adopted the daybed for reclining in the daytime and during meals and at night they slept on. This type of daybed was widely used in the Orient as well, where there was no distinction between sleeping furniture and daytime furniture.


(Madame Juliette Récamier above)

Récamier Sofa (above) took the name from Madame Juliette Récamier, a French society leader, whose salon drew Parisians from the leading literary and political circles of the early 19th century. After Madame Récamier’s guests were well fed, she would preside over the discussions while reclining on a sofa, usually wrapped in a yellow shawl. That’s how Jacques-Louis David depicted her. It seems that a bit of gossip is appropriate with a Récamier: Madame Juliette Récamier married at the age of 15 Jacques-Rose Récamier, a rich banker nearly 30 years her senior and a relative of the gourmand Brillat-Savarin, who wrote a few books on the philosophy of cooking and taste. Fantastic books, I read them all and strongly suggest them. A rumor arose that Jacques-Rose Récamier was Juliette’s natural father who married her to make her his heir. The Récamier marriage was never consummated and Juliette remained a virgin until at least the age of forty.


(Above http://www.brighthome-furniture.com/chaise-lounges.html)

Méridienne – a type of asymmetrical day-bed (above) – has a high head-rest, and a lower foot-rest, joined by a sloping piece. Every grand house of France in the early 19th century had one for every room. Its typical use was for resting in the middle of the day when the sun is near the meridian, a practice still in use in the South of Europe and Mediterranean basin.


(Edouart Manet above – Fainting Sofa)

Fainting Sofa has a back raised at one end, often wraps around and extends along the entire length of the piece. Fainting sofa deserved separate rooms in the 19th century home décor, only used by women to faint on, due to their tight corsets restricting blood flow. However, another peculiar use of this chair made it go down in history. Sex between married people was intended only for procreation. Society’s false modesty prevented women of high social background from taking care of their men’ frivolous sex desires, it was considered an indecent behavior left only for prostitutes. That constricted way of thinking caused female hysteria, considered a real ‘disease’ that needed to be treated by home visiting doctors and midwives through manual pelvic massage. It was a recurrent need often requiring hours for the intimate procedure to work, thus creating room for privacy and a chair for comfort was of the utmost importance.


(Méridienne in my client’s home)

We cannot build our future if we don’t know the history. Today, when possible, I like to place one Méridienne chair or Fainting Sofa in my clients’ homes and I can’t help smiling…..Ciao,

Copyright © 2013 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

ValWorkingValentina Cirasola has been a lifetime designer in fashion and interiors. Her extensive knowledge of colors and materials led her in both directions successfully. She is well-know for designing custom furniture. She cares to make spacious and functional pieces, but she doesn’t forget to introduce the element of surprise, sinuous lines, attractive shapes and colors in the style fit for each of her special clients. She is the author of ©RED – A Voyage Into Colors, Check out her three books on
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w


The Sails Sofa | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer


Yesterday, this video came across my desk, I thought it portrays the modern Italian living to the letter.

Italians have lived and enjoyed antiquities for centuries. One can find there almost every style of architecture ever invented. The county is small, but concentrated with arts from the past in every expression from the Roman Empire era all the way to today’s contemporary arts and everything in between.
Yet, Italian homes are not decorated with antiques or traditional furniture, except in sporadic cases. All those antiquities we have been accustomed to for centuries stay out there in the streets. We ignore the treasure that surrounds our daily life as if they are nonexistent. They are our landscape.

Gone are the times when Italian people lived in large homes. The film “Under The Tuscan Sun” portrayed a way of living that does not exist any more. People who still own those dilapidated homes (we call farmhouses), such as the one in the film, have understood there is money to be made and that foreigners want to experience that kind of living. The next step was to remodel and turn those farmhouses into B&B, Spas, or making them available as vacation homes for hire by the week or by the month.

Italian people live in condos, one on top of the other, space is very limited, therefore furniture must be beautiful and contain stuff.  Our homes are decorated with colors, bright lights (which I truly despise), linear furniture and very simple shapes; furniture must be stylish, but functionality and space saver are the only two notes Italians want to hear.

Le Vele Sofa – In this video you will see how a cleverly designed sofa can be utilized in many different solutions, indoor and outdoor.

I am here to help you implementing these ideas  and finding that special piece you are looking for.

Like what you read? Sharing is caring. Pass it along to someone who’d benefit. Ciao,

Copyright © 2012 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved


Valentina Cirasola has been a lifetime designer in fashion and interiors. Her extensive knowledge of colors and materials led her in both directions successfully. She is well-known for designing custom furniture. She cares to make spacious and functional pieces, but she doesn’t forget to introduce the element of surprise, sinuous lines, attractive shapes and color in the style fit for each of her special clients. Check out her books on

Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w



Musical Chairs | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer


I was in a deep sleep; nothing was going to disturb that peaceful phase of my rest. Suddenly I heard a sweet melody coming from far away, it was getting closer and closer, finally stopped right in front of my eyes with a curious display of chairs dancing on a music scale, as if the chairs were notes out of a music sheet. I followed the music, smiled and continued dreaming.

That was many moons ago, I was a student in the interior design university. The day after that dream, my class was scheduled to have a test on History of Furniture, which included the study of chair styles in each period of history and each period with its subcategories of every possible ruler or short-lived kings and queens and their short-lived customs. It was a load of information I had to retain and the pressure of doing well was high, at least it was for me, as up to that moment, I had received a few high honors already. At the time, my desire was to become the best home designer known and be empowered with knowledge that would help people improve their life with better spaces, colors, furniture, and lifestyle.




Chair Composition ©Valentina Cirasola


(Above Musical Notes in my furniture board: Free Clip Art by x7Vector).

I saw dancing in front of me Greek and Roman style, Savonarola chair, Chippendale, Queen Ann, cabriolet legs, Louis XV-XVI and all the Louis, freezes and linenfold, Empire style, Liberty Style, Modernism, and postmodern style, Asian style, Italian and Venetian style, French Bergères, fauteuils, Recamier, fainting chairs, gossip chairs and slipper chairs, Art Déco and Belle époque style…..blimey, I am out of breath just thinking about it.
That tune I heard in my dream was “Tea For Two”. I found two versions Nat King Cole played in his days of fame.

That pleasant and sweet dream remained in my memory. Later in the years, I learned one simple thing about chairs: their hidden meaning is POWER. A chair puts in focus leadership, the desire of emerging, acquiring or abusing power. The chair was invented to distinguish humans from animals, but mainly to distinguish the higher strata of society from the plebs and had a resemblance to thrones than chairs. The rest of the people and servants either sat on their knees (as we still see in Oriental cultures), on stones, or on stools and benches without the back.

The word chair in Greek (the base of all Romantic languages) translates in Kathedra. In Latin, the word chair translates in Cathedra as the bishop chair in the cathedral and the word Cattedra in Italian translates in desk from which to teach, thus requiring a chair to sit down and turn the setting into a place of authority.

The expression he/she has arrived often refers to someone who occupies a chair of importance in society, in a political career, as a President of a company, the chair of a University Dean, or the throne of a modern King and Queen, just to name a few. The Pope sits on a beautiful gilded chair.

To dream of being sited on a chair like a throne means the inner self is looking for an exasperated search for power while losing the grip on reality. To dream of being sited in an enveloping chair means to be surrounded by a suffocating female figure, or suffocating family. Interesting? Practically every piece of furniture in dreams has a particular meaning, which always refers to our inner self, searching for something, or emphasizing certain aspects of the dreamer’s character.

(Photo above found on http://naturalresultschiropractic.com/good-posture)

Humans first crawled, then learned to walk, soon after felt the need to sit down and invented the chair. The concept of comfort was not always present in the mind of the chair’s inventors and builders, their concern was to produce chairs fit for power. Today, with the long hours all of us spend at the computer we need to think in terms of ergonomics postures and sit on chairs that are going to protect our spine and knees. Comfort is of the utmost importance, style matters, price doesn’t. Your back supports your life, nourish it as you nourish your brain.
Like what you read? Sharing is caring. Pass it along to someone who’d benefit. Ciao,


Copyright © 2012 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved


Valentina Cirasola, is the principal designer and owner of Valentina Interiors & Designs. She is a trained designer and has been in business since 1990. She works on consultation and produces design concepts for remodeling, upgrading, new homes, décor restyling and home fashion. “Vogue” magazine and many prominent publications in California featured Valentina’s work. She also has made four appearances on T.V. Comcast Channel 15. Her new book on Colors is almost ready to be published. Stay tuned for ©RED-A Voyage Into Colors.
Amazon: http://goo.gl/xUZfk0
Barnes&Nobles: http://goo.gl/q7dQ3w


Tète-à-Tète | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer


February is a cold month in most parts of the world, fortunately is warmed up with the fuzzy theme of love. Thinking of love, the tète-à-tète chair comes to mind.

(Stone tète-à-tète chair via Pinterest)

Typical and essential piece of décor for gardens and interiors, the tète-à-tète chair marked an era when a man could only court a woman by looking not by touching and under the vigilant eyes of her relatives. It was designed for coziness, close enough to look at each other in the eyes, occasional brushing elbows could slip out, but the armrest in the middle divided the two sexes keeping them at a certain distance.

Actually, the chair didn’t serve only lovers. Gossipers also used it while sitting together. Sitting face-to-face was favorable to discretely passing in each other’s ears all the juicy details of someone else’s life, or of a person present in the room unaware of being the subject of interest. The tète-à-tète chair allowed women to sit comfortably with fashionable belled up dresses with cumbersome crinoline underneath.

(Above photo found on https://www.etsy.com/listing/500135605/sonia-messer-tete-a-tete)

(Above photo, French Victorian seat,  found on: http://www.newel.com/products.php)

Fast forward a couple of centuries and we see some new versions of the tète-à-tète chair. I have to admit warmth and coziness are gone, but they are attractive in their own unique modernity. The black and white of the Eli-Fly Chair is very graphic, the lines are slim, sensuous and lonely. The two chairs can face each other at a distance, or can be set closer to make caressing a little easier. But it seems to me this is a type of chair the people in “need of their space” would buy.

(Eli-Fly-Lounge-Chairs by Deisree)


More modern versions of the tète-à-tète chair are also available for the garden in wrought iron or wood. I have seen a pretty set painted in blue in one of the historical establishments in California. They wrap them around trees, where people can relax with a book and courtship under a magnolia tree might be possible again.


I absolutely adore the Heart Cone Chair designed by Verner Panton in 1959 and reissued by renowned furniture company Vitra.
Price of the Heart Cone Chair: $3,670. Precious!
It would fit beautifully in any décor and in any empty corner. Red is imposing, calls for attention, but this chairs brings passion.
“Most people spend their lives in dreary beige conformity, mortally afraid of using colors,” Panton said, in the mid-1950s. I could not agree more.


What does this chair have to do with the tète-à-tète chair of Victorian time? Nothing. The heart is already there, it needs two people to sit in each other’s lap and the tète-à-tète picture is complete.

Let me support you in finding your uniqueness in décor and style, but don’t forget to leave your name down below. Ciao,

Copyright © 2012 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved


Valentina Cirasola has been a lifetime designer in fashion and interiors. Her extensive knowledge of colors and materials led her in both directions successfully. She is well-known for designing custom furniture. She cares to make spacious and functional pieces, but she doesn’t forget to introduce the element of surprise, sinuous lines, attractive shapes and color in the style fit for each of her special clients.
She is the author of ©RED-A Voyage Into Colors, her forthcoming book on the subject of colors, due to be released in the Spring 2012. Check out her first two books on

©Come Mia Nonna: http://goo.gl/T0eL36
©Sin of A Queen: http://goo.gl/JA4WMO


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