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A brief history of sleeping sofas

Sleeping sofas. You gotta love them! A practical solution for smaller interiors of for those who expect regular stay-overs. They are often not thought of as style-icons, but we at De Vreugde Design know that they absolutely can be! For example, we L-O-V-E the designs by Martin Visser, where the sofa can be turned into a bed simply by pulling out the seat. We are proud to regularly have them in stock! However, his design was not the first ever sleeping sofa. They actually have quite the history!

Ancient History

The very first sleeping sofa (that we know of!) dates all the way back to ancient Egypt. In the early 20th century, British archaeologists found one in the tomb of Toetanchamon. This means it must have been from the 14th century B.C!


In 1899, the sleeping sofa became popular with the masses when the American Leonard C. Bailey got the patent for his foldable bed. The main focus on that was to create a bed that was easy to move and it became very popular with campers. It became known as the “hide-a-bed”.

Small spaces

Another famous design is the so called Murphy Bed, designed by William Lawrence Murphy as the “In-A-Dor”. It’s a sofa that can be folded into a cabinet.

During times of financial crisis in the 1930s, the American Bernard Castro invented a sleeping sofa like the ones we know now: the “Castro Convertible”. Folding out the seat of this sofa would turn it into a bed. Designed for small incomes during times of crisis, this was the start of a development where the sleeping sofa would evolve into a true interior fashion statement!

Style icon

It was in the late 1950s / early 1960s when Martin Visser came on the scene and changed the face of sleeping sofas forever! The BR02 sofa, as pictured below, quickly turned into a timeless design icon that has remained loved up tot his very date. It’s revolutionary converting system allows a very quick transition from sofa to bed. All that you have to do is pull out the seat and voila! Together with it’s minimalist, modern design we will never stop loving this sofa.

As big enthusiasts of Dutch design, we regularly have the Martin Visser sleeping sofas in stock! Are you interested in one? Feel free to contact us, or have a look at the latest stock info by clicking here!