Properties / Interiors & Decor

Designer Settees To Get Cocooned In The Mood For Love

A cool look at how settees are the smaller cousins of traditional sofas and how they can be used in intimate settings around the house.

Feb 14, 2024 | By Joe Lim

Go on a furniture shopping excursion and one might hear the phrase “settee,” which may not be a term most are familiar with. One could define a settee as a long, upholstered seat that can accommodate many people with little research, but understanding the distinctions between a settee and a couch will help customers know what brands truly mean. It all boils down to four characteristics: size, function, design, and style. These are what help set one apart from the other. With today being Valentine’s Day, it is a perfect time to discover how settees can change the way people spend cuddle time with their loved ones at home.

Gufram Bocca

Bocca settee designed in 1970 by Studio65 for Gufram. Image: Gufram.

So, what is a settee? They are smaller than a traditional sofa, with width sizes ranging from 127cm to 177cm. They are meant to seat fewer people and are not as deep as sofas, intended so that individuals are seated upright. However, big furniture brands have come to embrace the settee as slightly more prominent, but the aesthetic looks more cocooned, making the “sitter” feel more embraced.

Because of their petite size, settees can fit anywhere from small corners to bedrooms and breakfast nooks. It is easy to provide the right amount of seating. Today’s furniture brands have developed armless settees and versions offering slim arms. The footprint of a settee is small and more streamlined to allow one to sit in a sophisticated style rather than sink-in comfort. Here are some suggestions to better inform settee shoppers.

Gufram “Bocca” Settee

Gufram Bocca

The Bocca’s red version is iconic of the brand. Image: Gufram.

Dubbed the grandaddy, the genesis of the small couch, aka settee, the Bocca lip-shaped seat designed by Studio65 for Gufram in 1970 celebrated its 50th anniversary. Initially conceived for a beauty salon in Milan, Bocca is the perfect abstraction of sensuality and the irreverent pop spirit of 1970s design: the project is the symbol of that radical research which Gufram, beginning with its founding in 1966, carries on even today.

Gufram Bocca

The Bocca’s aesthetic captures the spirit of the ’60s. Image: Gufram.

Studio65 conceived Bocca at the request of a beauty salon chain owner in Milan. The 1960s was an era of significant change for women’s image; it was also when people embraced the “pop” aesthetic in their homes. Undoubtedly, the Bocca seat became a hit and maintained its irreverent and iconic spirit, tempered with a glamorous and timeless aesthetic. The Bocca is now an internationally famous and celebrated design piece in many permanent museum collections worldwide. Today, in honour of its 50th anniversary (1970 to 2020), 25 new colours merged with its curved lines to give new life and meaning to this iconic seat. From vivid hues to neutral tones, you’ll find a piece to suit your beloved space. Now, as much a part of the national imagination as Andy Warhol’s sculptures and other pop art masterpieces, this sensual sofa is perfect for a tête-à-tête. Following exhibitions in some of the world’s most prestigious museums, such as the MAK in Vienna, the Design Museum in Munich, and the Museum of Applied Art and Sciences in Sydney

Molteni & C “Augusto” Settee

Molteni & C

The “Augusto” sofa offers a compact footprint. Image: Molteni & C.

The “Augusto” sofa by Vincent Van Duysen, which strikes a balance between softness and structure, is unique among Molteni&C sofas because it lacks a modular design. Available at P5, this model’s inviting design is tailored to how the body naturally settles into a sofa and is built upon a painted aluminium base. Together, the height, depth, and form of the arms, the softness of the cushions, and the seat depth create a well-thought-out design that maximises comfort. Augusto’s flowing lines are traced by its exquisite contrast piping, which provides visual interest and definition.

Minotti “Sendai” Settee

Minotti Sendai

The “Sendai” compact sofa designed by Inoda+Sveje for Minotti. Image: Minotti.

The “Sendai” Lounge Sofa, designed by Inoda+Sveje for Minotti and named after the city of trees, is part of a seating series that includes dining chairs and armchairs. Like slim trunks, the gracefully polished legs in either liquorice lacquered ash or solid Canaletto walnut tinted Light Brown lay on the floor, raising the upholstered body and generating a gentle rhythm of vertical lines. Stocked at Marquis Singapore, this chic settee/lounger should be part of your interior space if you want to cosy up with your better half.

Ligne Roset “Kashima”

Ligne Roset is bringing back its iconic Kashima model in 2023. It’s known as the “comfy Chesterfield.” The Michel Ducaroy-designed “Kashima” medium settee provides traditional clients with “English” comfort. This model’s broad contours give an all-foam seat a comforting appearance. Under its pleasant exterior, Kashima’s all-foam sitting conceals a gentle comfort in its rounded and curved forms (integrated armrests, lumbar, headrest). But the high-density foams that make it up hold up just fine despite its softness. Remember that the only way to be sure a foam will last is to look at its density. The longer a seat stays, the denser the foam. Then, the buttoning is created using invisible tie rods inserted into the foam. Stocked at Grafunkt, Kashima retains a hint of fantasy despite the shapes’ classicism. Reinforced by inner laces, the fully quilted cover creates “pinched” seams at the corners. The seat’s nest-like shape lets the user sit with their weight pressed against the sides.

Designed by Claesson Koivisto Rune 2016

Arflex Bonsai

Bonsai small settee designed by Claesson Koivisto Rune for Arflex. Image: Arflex.

Bonsai is inspired by reflection upon Japanese aesthetics and culture. The seat is characterised by soft and curved shapes reminiscent of clouds. Designed in 2016 for Arflex, Swedish design firm Claesson Koivisto Rune has created a unique new seating collection called “Bonsai”. Inspired by bonsai potted plants with tufted moss, the Japanese aesthetics fuses Italian influences in furniture-making know-how.

Arflex Bonsai

The “Bonsai” settee can be offered in traditional legs. Image: Arflex.

The bonsai plant’s soft curving lines, easily reminiscent of the dwarf bushes found in Japanese gardens, will draw the sitter to try it out. Available at Space Furniture, the cloud-like upholstery forms are set on low, rectangular wooden bases to create a non-traditional sofa where a matching pouf complements it. Each upholstered seat is crafted from moulded polyurethane foam and put on a wood base, or one can opt for traditional metal legs.

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