Unlike day beds, which are a cross between a sofa and a bed, sofa beds are fully-fledged sofas that can be easily modified/folded-out to create extra sleeping space for oneself or guests, should the need arise.
In some designs, the sofa’s folding ability is evident: Alvar Aalto’s 1930 ‘Aalto Schlafsofa Modell 63’, manufactured today by Edition Wohnbedarf, leaves its steel frame and folding mechanism largely exposed. A more understated solution, though it provides slightly less sleeping space, can be observed in Le Corbusier’s Cassina-produced ‘LC5-F’ from 1935, were the back cushions can be rotated backwards to increase the sofa’s width.
In many cases, the fact that the sofa can fold into a bed is not manifested in its outward appearance at all. The visually light and airy ‘Just’ sofa bed, designed for Swedese by Lars Pettersson, and Martin Visser’s ‘BR’ for spectrum meubelen, as well as the more robust ‘Minnie’, by Franz Fertig for die Collection, and Peter Ross’s ‘Emilio’ sofa bed for Bonaldo, all masterfully conceal their secondary function.
This design approach is countered by models such as Enzo Palmisciano’s ‘Divaletto’ sofa bed for Milano Bedding, essentially a mattress which can be folded into a sofa. Other interesting solutions include Centro design’s ‘Papillon’ for Bonaldo, in which the asymmetrically folded sofa transforms into a conventional, flat bed, to ‘Plug-In’ sofa bed, designed by Gioia Meller Marcovicz for Wittmann, where an oversized armrest and an integrated side table become nightstands on either side of the unfolded bed, and the integrated reading light attached to the back of the sofa can also be used for its original purpose in the unfolded state.