There is something special about the daybed - not a seat, not a bed but somewhere in between. I have a passion for them not least because they invariably look amazing in just about any interior. The past is full of some extraordinary examples such as Bruno Mathsson's 'Berlin' daybed from 1960 and more recently Vincent Van Duysen's 2002 masterpiece from the 'VVD' range for B&B Italia. Sadly neither of these beautiful examples are in production at the moment but there are plenty of other reissued pieces that are worthy of consideration and a huge array of contemporary designs. Just lay back and relax............
Australian designers, Bassam Fellows, talk about the indulgence of a daybed, the fact that it is only for one and that it is for sleeping and reading during the day brings with it a guilty pleasure.
Whether they take the form of a timber Scandinavian inspired aesthetic of timber and wool fabric (as many of them tend to do) or a minimal metal and leather structure - like the VVD daybed referred to earlier or Mies Van der Rohe's famous 'Barcelona' design - it's all in the materials and the details. The structure is largely fixed at around 2 metres in length, 80 to 100cm wide and 30 to 40 cm high. New shapes are few and far between, and to be frank, rarely successful. Within these very restricted parameters however there seems to be a frequent introduction of new designs with subtle nuances that bring delight to those who covet a good daybed.
Doshi Levien have produced several daybeds in the course of their career. The 'Charpoy' range is essentially four different daybeds in different shapes, sizes and fabrics produced by Moroso. Based on the traditional Indian 'Charpoy', the bed is a successful collision of handicraft and machine made precision. The true daybed version is in off-white silk and is 186cm long x 103cm wide x 41 cm high, while the bench version shown is longer, narrower and taller at 205cm x 74cm x 48cm.
The designer's 'Principessa' daybed from 2008 (again for Moroso) also features elaborate embroidered Indian fabric but tells the story of Hans Christian Anderson's Princess and the Pea with it's many layered mattresses. The design comes in two heights and in a beautiful array of fabrics. The choice of which fabric goes on the top is the joy of this design but the designers created the top mattress fabric as a suggestion of what the modern Princess might take with her on a 'night on the town'. Everything from sunglasses to a hairdryer, umbrella and shoes.
It's hard to come back from the whimsical display of joy that is Doshi Levien, but daybeds are generally very understated and to pretend otherwise would be to ignore a century of restrained elegance with an emphasis on craftsmanship. The Scandinavian aesthetic has played a big role in daybed design over the last 100 years and it seems that this is not looking like changing anytime soon. Bassam Fellows, the Australian designers mentioned earlier, produced their 'Daybed' back in 2004 but to many it remains the quintessential contemporary version of the mid century ideal. Available in solid Santos Palisander (rosewood) teak, walnut or ash, the daybed is upholstered in super-soft Scandinavian leathers or suede. Aged brass supports complete the picture. The daybed measures 194cm x 84cm x 30cm high.
Danish designer and architect Ole Wanscher created the 'Colonial' daybed (OW150) in 1960. It has recently been reissued by Carl Hansen & Son to much success. Available in black or cognac leather on an oak frame, the daybed measures 180cm x70cm x 46cm high. The design ahas a level of sophistication and delicacy that lends itself to more subdued, quiet interiors.
Many contemporary designs have taken the simplicity of timber creations like that of Wanscher and produced new pieces that reflect the general mid century aesthetic but which do so in a new way. The 'SW' daybed by OeO studio ( Anne Marie Buemann & Thomas Lykke, former fashion editor of Wallpaper* magazine) is produced by Stellar Works and is a case in point as it manages to meld Asian and European styles in a beautifully refined way. The daybed measures 190cm x 806cm by 52.5cm.
A beautiful combination of 50’s style and Japanese minimalism 'Daybed' (or Model 118 as it was originally called) by iconic French designer Pierre Paulin was a huge hit at Maison & Objet for Ligne Roset in January this year. The low slatted timber base has three moveable cushions in three colours allowing the seat to morph from daybed to small sofa with integrated timber table. The design was originally part of Pierre Paulin’s first ever collection, shown at Salon des Arts Ménagers in 1953.
Designed in 1925, the ‘Theban’ daybed by German architect Ferdinand Kramer is inspired by ancient Egyptian daybeds (hence the name). Reissued by German brand e15, it is available in natural vegetable tanned leather or in woven linen. Curiously the daybed comes in three sizes 180 x 80 x 35cm, 200 x 80 x 35cm and 200 x 90 x 35cm and with the choice of either a waxed oak or walnut frame.
The ‘Futon’ daybed from Toronto based MSDS studio launched their ‘Stockholm’ collection in early 2015 at the Stockholm Furniture Fair. The studio founded by Jonathan Sabine and Jessica Nakanishi in 2011 has a strong aesthetic that can best be described as a meeting of a Scandinavian and Japanese elements. Their newest collection is elegant and simple yet graphic with a purity in both the form and materials. The 'Futon' daybed features a thin, quilted mattress that folds into a unique headrest.
I first saw Annita Johansen's ‘Daybed’ released by Menu as part of a Aalto University show of graduate projects at Ventura Lambrate in Milan (I think it was in 2013). Now available in a small range of wool melange fabric options or in leather, the frame of the daybed is offered in natural or black stained oak. It measures 180cm x 80cm x 40cm high.
Ty Best creates a range of totally unique furniture pieces from his studio in Montana. He founded his studio, Caste, in 2007 and continues to either makes the pieces himself or has them made in the Chicago area where he has a gallery that sells Caste products. The daybed measures 207cm x 80cm x 38.5 cm high and is made from patinated steel with channel-upholstered seat cushion in leather. Limited custom sizes are available and there is a bench version in the same series.
The ‘Man’ daybed by Knut Bendik Humlevik and Rune Krøjgaard for Norr11 . The daybed has many of the attributes of Danish classics such as Poul Kjaerholm's famous PK80 (see later in this post) but through a new leg style manages to offer a more contemporary look. The legs are in stainless steel and the daybed features heavy duty canvas sling that supports the leather cushion. It measures 202cm x 85cm x 30cm high and is only available in leather (although there are two types of leather, premium and vintage, each in two colours). There is also a chaise version with an angled back.
The work of GamFratesi never fails to surprise and their 'Traveller' daybed is no exception. Launched at the Milan fair last April (2015), the daybed recalls campaign furniture of old but was designed more around the concept of two people relaxing at the end of a day and sharing conversation. The design is generally shown by the manufacturer, Porro, in either tan leather with natural linen upholstery or in the all black version shown here but is available in other fabric and leather combinations. It measures 189cm x 850cm x 850cm high.
Another new design from Italy is the 'Yard' daybed by Francesco Rota for LEMA. Super-minimal is a term that might be applied but in actual fact there is quite a lot of subtle detail going on here - particularly around the square section base that uses overlapping lengths to create a more sculptural 3-D form. The base is in bronze varnished steel while a range of leathers are offered.
By-in-large daybeds are expensive so it is of great interest to many when a more economical design hits the market. So it is with the new 'Turn' daybed from Danish accessories brand Ferm Living. Not know for large furniture pieces, they have done a great job in creating a daybed with a starting price of 1699 euro. Made in Poland, the daybed has metal legs with a beech wood box frame that carries a spring system under the mattress for added comfort. There are four fabric options across cotton and wool including one from Kvadrat that can be mixed or matched. The harness leather belts are not only a decorative detail but function to hold the two-tone mattress in place while allowing the user to flip it over and change the look whenever desired. The daybed measures 190cm x 80cm x 42cm high.
Eileen Gray designed her iconic ‘Daybed’ in 1925. Now produced under license from the world license holder Aram Designs Ltd London, by German brand ClassiCon the Day Bed is rightly counted among the most famous designs by Eileen Gray and one of the greatest daybed designs of the 20th century. The tubular steel frame is in highly polished chrome while internally the daybed has a beech frame with rubber webbing. The loose mattress which sits on top incorporates Bonell springs covered in layers of wool felt and polyurethane. It is offered in a variety of fabrics or leathers and measures 190cm x 86cm x 41cm high (seat height) – 60 cm to the top of backrail.
Another iconic piece of daybed design is the PK80 by Danish designer and architect, Poul Kjaerholm. Now reissued by Fritz Hansen, it is used in hundreds of major galleries all over the world, the daybed offers plenty of comfort while remaining low and unassuming. Like the 'Yard' daybed shown earlier in this post, it is the layered use of brushed flat bar stainless steel that is so interesting and what makes the design so visually light. The PK80 measures 190cm x 80cm x 30cm high.
Designed in 1930 the iconic daybed styled after the famous 'Barcelona' chair is available in two leathers (Volo and Sabrina) and in 6 and 2 colours respectively. It is an expensive piece due to the quality of the leatherwork which is made from individual squares of leather sewn together to form a complex button detail. The authentic version manufactured by Knoll, ranges in price from from US$9487 to US$11832 (if purchased in the US) and measures 195cm x 97cm 38cm (seat height) and 62.5cm to the top of the roll cushion.
Katrina Vonnegut and Brian Kraft are Vonnegut/Kraft, a Brooklyn based studio. Their collaboration brings together different background s in fabrication and design but a rock solid aesthetic based around minimal elements interesting materials and colours. Each piece is made by Vonnegut/Kraft in their Sunset Park, Brooklyn workshop. 'Crescent' is a beautiful solid timber piece with an exquisite headrest in the crescent shape that coined the design's name. It is also available in bleached ash. The design measures 200cm x 101.25cm x 45cm high.
Of course there are more great daybeds available - both vintage and contemporary - but this selection represents a wide variety of looks and they are all readily available. Happy searching and hopefully (eventually) happy sleeping during the day. There's nothing better!