Make Nights on the Sofa a Thing of the Past

9th October 2019

“Sometimes a chap wants to sleep with his wife, and sometimes a chap has a cold.”

It’s an unusual starting point for a furniture designer, but that was the instruction John Makepeace was given when tasked to design a new bed or sleeping area for an Oxford professor and his wife.

According to a Daily Mail article from February 1970, the couple “thought it might be rather fun to rethink the whole business of getting a good night’s sleep”. It continued, “The main idea of the shape is that one can sleep whichever way one wants.” The result was effectively a low double bed with an L-shaped annexe, to where one of the couple might retire if they were feeling a little under the weather. The unique structure has remained with its original commissioners for 50 years, but is now being sold at auction by Woolley and Wallis, alongside several other items of furniture designed by John Makepeace.

“John Makepeace remains one of Britain’s most prominent furniture designers to this day,” said Design specialist at Woolley and Wallis, Michael Jeffery. “His work has been described by Dame Rosalind Savill as “overwhelmingly desirable”, and his reputation as a designer and an educator of young furniture makers is long-established.”

Makepeace was only 30 when Professor Roy Harris, a controversial linguist at Keble College, commissioned him to design the unusual sleeping area, alongside his textile designer wife, Ann Sutton.  He was already a firm favourite with the couple, who had previously commissioned a dining table and seating area and a slate desk, both of which are also included in the auction on 16th October.

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