BACKSTORIES by Tokuhiko Kise

I was intrigued by the commotion over “day beds.” I imagined one in a nice, cozy place gently warmed by the sunlight.

Naturally, in the house that I grew up in there was no day bed, and I had never seen one at any of my friends’ houses either. I wondered, “A day bed is just for… the afternoon? You don’t use it at night? If that’s so, then what a luxury that is! An afternoon-only bed, huh! Do you sleep on it or sit on it? What do you do with it??” I simply couldn’t wrap my head around it.

Even so, I kept thinking about it, and somewhere in my heart I thought that I had to try to make one.

That time came. It came suddenly, like a switch just went off in my head. In my usual notebook, I took a thick-lined 4B pencil and drew the same picture over and over. As I drew, I started to see the day bed come to life. Where should I do what, what should be here or there? Without thinking, I just drew however I wanted it.

At that very same time, I had some wool and cotton fabric that was an olive color like they use in the Army. “This is perfect,” I thought. Instead of an elegant, lady-like appeal, the olive fabric seemed wild and outdoorsy. I imagined seeing it on rows and rows of army beds. I had that kind of “man’s man” look. I attached metal legs to the corners of the wood that I cut and put together like a puzzle, making a box joint. I tested the softness and thickness of the cushions over and over. I tested to make sure that it was not just comfortable for sitting, but also if you wanted to roll over and lay down on it.

When I finished it, I carried it inside my house and put it in a room to feel it out. My very first day bed! It looked good, I thought, but how could I use it?

Initially, it caught my eye after I finished lunch one day. My stomach satisfied, I thought I’d take a little nap. The two pillows laid on each end of the bed were soft and comfortable. I stretched my legs out and put my feet on the cushion. Before I knew it, I had slept like a stone for a quarter of an hour.

In the way that you don’t really sleep when you take an afternoon nap in a regular bed, and the same when you sleep on a couch, this day bed is different. It can take on a role in that kind of minute, particular way.

You don’t have to just sleep, you can sit on it like a bench whenever you feel like it. You can stand up from it refreshed and rejuvenated. If you push it against a wall and add cushions, it becomes a sofa. At first, it may seem strange and different, but over time, the little day bed becomes a familiar part of your home.

Of course, it could also be used as a bed for a friend staying the night.

One house, one day bed. Wouldn’t that be nice?

For those of you who like a bit of a softer look, we can replace the metal legs with wooden ones.

Tokuhiko Kise