Gaps – that’s the new must-have feature for sofas, according to experts.
“It partly looks as if the sofa has been cut open,” says interior design expert Gabriela Kaiser.
In a three-seater for example, the back rest might be missing from the middle seat, creating the impression of a foot rest.
The idea is to make the sofa look more sophisticated and lighter. It also has a practical advantage in that the foot rest can be used from both sides.
Milan-based MDF Italia has created the luxurious Sofa Cosy range, which includes two separate coffee tables/foot rests that can be used to vary the living room.
The gap in the middle of the back rest can also make an appearance in other ways: In many sofas the back rest has been set deeper and large cushions are used to support the back instead.
But rather than having a continuous wall of cushion, sometimes there are just two with a gap in the middle. German sofamaker COR has even emphasised the space with decorative stitching on the cushions.
Furniture makers are also experimenting with armchairs, for example taking the left arm rest off one and the right off another so that they can be pushed together to create a two-seat sofa.
And removing an armrest has another advantage – it means a coffee table can be directly attached. Some sofas even already come with a fixed table – which sometimes can also be found in the gap in the middle.
It seems like furniture designers are currently rethinking every part of the sofa.
“Even this playing with the depth of the seat is being further experimented with,” says Kaiser.
Increasingly, designers are also varying height, partly at the request of customers.
Pauline Junglas from German sofamaker Bretz says customers have specifically requested high-seat sofas.
In response, designers came up with the “Croissant” with a seat that’s 45cm high and 64cm deep.
“Modularity and flexibility is what’s important to customers,” says Junglas.
“We have customers who have their sofa in front of the fire in the winter and then in the summer they turn it round to face the garden,” adds Patrick Michils from German furniture-maker Indera.
That’s why the company has created the “Hug”, a giant sofa that faces both ways.
Not so long ago daybeds were a big trend in the sofa industry. But they’re about to disappear again, predicts Kaiser.
“Recliners are being reintegrated into sofas,” she says. That’s because lolling about and sitting come in many different ways, she explains.
“When you’re sitting normally, you want to be upright. But if you want to read, for example, you generally want to get a stage lower, lying down.”
And not many people have room for both a daybed and a sofa, which is why manufacturers are coming back to the idea of combining them.
If people need extra space, they can buy small armchairs – lots of companies are producing mini models that are space-saving and can be moved around like small stools.
“For flats, small armchairs are also an alternative to sofas,” says Kaiser.
“Especially in single households, you don’t need much more.” – dpa