Mr. Hyde Sofa

We all remember the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Kindly, genteel, competent (and rich) Dr. Jekyll appears to become beholden to one Mr. Hyde, who is all things Jekyll is not; that is, mean-spirited, coarse, nefarious, and crude.

Hyde Sofa. Designed by Pablo Crespo, Martin Franzen, and Isaac Pineiro Scuola Politecnica di Design, in collaboration with Serralunga and Deep Design.

Of course, these oppositional qualities also manifest in contrasting appearances-most apropos for our purposes, wherein appearances weigh heavy-Jekyll is tall, refined, and distinguished; Hyde is short and squat, misshapen and troll-like. If an animal metaphor will suffice, Jekyll is the elegant stork to Hyde’s poisonous toad. As we all know, the revelation of the tale is that they are not acquaintances, nor partners engaged in some odd private dealing, but one and the same person. Thus, Jekyll and Hyde is an archetype for dualities-for the split personality, the inscrutable contradiction.

Now, Scuola Politecnica di Design (in consultation with Serralunga and Deep Design) has taken the Hyde motif to a whole new level. Students Pablo Crespo, Martin Franzen, and Isaac Pineiro designed and created the Hyde Sofa for this year’s Salone di Mobile. Thanks to “a smarter use of light, materials, patterns and to a playful approach, connecting past and future,” the new sofa has a dual personality all its own. By day, it’s a blocky, severe-lined, rather non-descript-let’s say “understated and versatile”-contemporary sofa; while at night (or in artificial darkness, one would presume), it morphs into a signature piece with all the flourish and detail of the art deco stylings of Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann.

Mr. Hyde Sofa

The night-time version of The Hyde (is this Hyde or Jekyll?) reveals a sofa within a sofa, as the photo-sensitive detailing on the upholstery comes alive. The result is a kind of “ghost couch,” that both acknowledges its presence in the present while yearning for the past. I picture the Hyde amidst certain icons of debauchery and decay: it could inhabit the lobby in the old Delano (before restoration) or the piano bar in the Pines (decaying as we speak up in the Catskills). Stare at it in dark mode for long enough, and you expect Betelgeuse to sample its cozy confines, or the specters of The Shining to rise from its phantasmic contours. The Hyde is both a nod to the specters of design’s past and a playful suggestion for the future. Its “on and off” quality allows aficionados of dualism to have it both ways.

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