An iconic red sofa, travelling the world to build up a Gallery of Mankind, is upholstered in a fabric supplied by Kobe.

World renowned photo-concept artist Horst Wackerbarth, who has spent more than 25 years travelling the world getting people to talk on the sofa, recently revealed that he’d picked Kobe’s ‘Real’ velvet fabric for his famous sofa because “it is by far the most beautiful red I could find and it’s so easy to use, I just clean it after my travels and it’s ready for the next adventure.”

His aim is to create a gallery of humanity that portrays everyone; young and old, poor and rich, the famous and the unknown. From the most bustling cities to ice deserts of Alaska and rain forests of South America. More than 700 people from 53 countries have sat down on the red couch and told their stories to Mr Wackerbarth, including people like the world famous Sir Peter Ustinov. According to him, the red couch is a common element, recurrent theme, stage, throne and a communication platform all in one.

Said David Harris, md of Kobe UK: “It gives us great pleasure to see our fabrics translated into beautiful interiors all over the world and at times we are really surprised by the creative ingenuity of our customers. “It is incredible to see our fabric in the most unconventional settings and hear the most amazing stories being told.”

There is only one couch on the road at any one time. So far, three have been lost; one went overboard in the Pacific ocean during a daring ship manoeuvre, the second was burnt during a photoshoot with firemen and the third one was disposed of mistakenly by workers at a museum.

The couch that is currently in use has been in service since 1996 and has seen the highest number of protagonists taking a seat on it. The sofa covers are renewed from time to time, with complete restoration having being done twice – after lions and polar bears had ruined it. But whatever happens, Mr Wackerbarth just gets in touch with Kobe to re-order his favorite red fabric.

Mr Wackerbarth’s work has been published in 10 monographs, displayed in 50 museums and galleries around the world and is included in 13 major collections of contemporary art.

red sofa



About Nadia Hussain

Nadia is the Marketing and Events Manager for the BCFA. She has an eye for detail and is always on the look-out for new and funky trends in the industry. If you would like to appear in the Design Insider Live please do send over an email to
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