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A Step Up for the Pullout Sofa Bed

May 27, 1999|CONNIE KOENENN

Even though it works hard to fill a double role in the furniture world, the sofa bed usually comes up short. It either sits well or sleeps well--and sometimes it does neither.

The problem is the traditional design, notes Francesca Bianchi, owner of Dormire in Santa Monica. "Everything is hidden under the cushions. When you . . . pull out the metal frame, you have this tiny little mattress and an iron bar down the middle."

Italian designers have come up with the Vulcano sofa bed, which combines sleek styling with simple geometry. A simple flick flips over the backrest, presenting two orthopedic mattresses and frames.

"The concept is to have a regular mattress to sleep on, not just a bed for emergency situations," said Bianchi, who grew up in design-conscious Milan and opened Dormire three years ago.

The Vulcano can be ordered in more than 100 fabrics and patterns. Despite its high-end price ($2,000-plus), she said, it's often an impulse item. "People come in and buy it in 10 minutes."

Buona notte.

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