Body Watch : The Couch Maker to the Analysts


Where do old-school analysts--the ones who’ll ask you to lie down and free-associate about the word mother --get those cool couches?

Chances are, they came from Prestige Furniture and Design Group in Woodside, Queens, which specializes in psychoanalytic couches--delivering hundreds annually to every state in the country plus such offshore destinations as Japan, Greece, Israel and Saudi Arabia.

“They’re made in onesies, and a lot of companies don’t want to deal with that,” says co-owner Fred Brafman, who has been with Prestige for 43 years.

Prestige started in the 1930s, making recovery couches for physicians. “Then they took off as psychoanalytic couches,” Brafman says.


“Look at movies where you see someone being psychoanalyzed--nine times out of 10 the couch is one of ours,” boasts Brafman.

He recalls one number made for a Broadway actress who was heavy. “We had to make a very wide one so she would look thinner,” he says.

And then there are sports psychoanalysts who need wider or longer couches for big football players or tall basketball players, and Beverly Hills analysts who deal with show people and want something jazzier.

And the list goes on.


“If they see midgets, we’ll make the couches smaller,” Brafman says. “We’ve learned a lot of things through the years about what makes analysts happy.”

Still, overall, most analysts--a “pretty staid group"--want the same type of couch.

“You don’t want to make anything too comfortable because patients will fall asleep,” says Brafman.

Faces or animal prints may cause distress to patients, he adds, segueing into a story about an analyst who ordered a jungle print with tigers, lions and giraffes. “It was disturbing,” he says. “We re-covered it.”

The company catalogue shows nine models, with features ranging from Queen Anne legs and buttonless tufting to overstuffed with pleated corners.

When it comes to colors, “it’s important to not be too somber or too bright,” he says. “Neutral-colored leather and fabric are most in demand.”

Many analysts like the idea of Freud’s couch, with a reclining head rest. Others who do group therapy might need a couch more appropriate for sitting than lying down.

For analysts just starting out, there’s a standard model starting at about $500, a stationary sloped-head affair in vinyl or fabric.


“Then as they progress into a more lucrative practice, they get couches in leather with tufting and pillows, those more plush types, in special sizes,” Brafman says. Those cost up to about $4,000.

“We’ll make anything,” he says.