Tete-a-Tetes, Then and Now

When we think of tete-a-tetes, we usually think of Victorian times, but there are many more modern versions as well.  Tete-a-tete literally means head to head in French, and it is a two-seat sofa, basically consisting of two chairs joined together. Its primary use was for private conversations as its other names suggest.  The tete-a-tete is also known as a courting chair or a gossip couch. It was developed during the early 19th century in France and was popularized during the Victorian era. The Victorian ideals of modesty and controlled courtship are illustrated by the shared armrest which provided a slight barrier between the couple sitting on the sofa!

One of the most famous examples of a tete-a-tete is this one which was made by John Belter, an American cabinetmaker, around 1850-1860.  His extravagant use of carved ornamentation is typical of Rococo Revival style.  It is displayed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

In many mid-century modern versions of the tete-a-tete, the shared armrest for modesty is gone – in fact this Edward Wormley tete-a-tete from 1950 looks more like modern double chaises we see today.  We saw this one for sale on www.decaso.com for $15,000.

We thought this ultra-contemporary tete-a-tete that we saw on Houzz is a very unique and dynamic art piece, but we could not find any information about where it could be purchased.

The rattan Confident armchair from Maison Drucker that we saw in Elle Décor comes in a range of colorful options as a part of its outdoor bistro seating collection.  It is priced at $3912.

For some, two heads may be better than one!