In a watercolour, he turned her blonde curls into portières, her eyes into paintings, her nose into a fireplace, and her lips into a divan. The last was a furnishing so provocative that British arts patron Edward James requested a three-dimensional version.
Dalí set to the task. The client deemed his first try, wrapped in pink satin, “too showy.” James preferred the next two, realized in 1938 by London decorators Green & Abbott in red and green felt with black fringe. The pair—one is at the V&A; the other failed to sell at Christie’s in June—were made for Monkton House in West Sussex, a classical Edwin Lutyens mansion that James recast as a Surrealist fantasia.
James commissioned five Dalí lips sofas, but there’s no reliable count of the spin-offs, vetted and otherwise. A Pop icon decades later, the seat was re-envisioned in 1970 by Italian radical firm Studio 65, which produced a polyurethane riff with Gufram. Two years later, Dalí collaborated with Catalan architect Oscar Tusquets on another example in polyethylene, which BD Barcelona began producing in 2004.