This Campaign for a Sailboat-Inspired Sofa Transports You to a 100-Year-Old Sailing School in Venice

For several years now we’ve been living in the era of the puffy couch: all those bulbous, legless, often low-to-the-ground sofas that trade structure and formality for the fantasy of enveloping softness. Many of the brands at the forefront of the movement are simply resurrecting the design icons that started it, in the 1960s and ’70s, but when it comes to the contemporary brands who are doing puffy best — like SCP and Sarah Ellison — it makes sense that Saba Italia is high among them. A 35-year-old family-run furniture maker that’s primarily operated by women (respect!), Saba’s value proposition is all about highlighting the superior quality and comfort of its textiles, even when it’s making pieces that don’t include any. Naturally its sofas are, above all, vehicles for the appreciation of those textiles — its latest release, the Vela, being no exception.

The fully upholstered two- or three-seater, designed for the brand by the Treviso-based duo Zanellato/Bortotto, is an interesting take on the puffy paradigm. Vela’s certainly soft and cushy, wrapped in a custom internally quilted viscose-based fabric, yet visually speaking it’s somehow still crisp, with arms that taper to a subtle point and striking diagonal tufting seams that gently reign in its voluminousness. That contrast is intentional, reflecting the inspiration for the sofa, which also lent it its name (“sail” in English): “We both love the sea and have always been fascinated by the unfurled sails blown by the wind near the Venice lagoon,” says Daniele Bortotto. “What fascinates us is how these large flaps of technical fabric, skillfully assembled and sewn, constantly change shape when they’re whipped and blown up by the wind. We tried to convey the elegance and sinuosity of these sails in a sofa with simple, soft lines, but sculpted by the quilting, which creates plays of light and shadows on the generally uniform surface of the fabric.”

Every year, Saba creates what they call an “emotional campaign” around its biggest releases, shot in visually evocative settings that underscore the concepts behind or properties of their pieces, like — last year — Carlo Mollino’s Teatro Regio in Turin. For Vela, Saba and the designers wanted to see the sofa amidst the nautical scenes that inspired it, sending photographer Mattia Balsamini to photograph it at the Compagnia della Vela, a nautical school founded in 1911 on the island of San Giorgio in Venice. View the campaign below, then head here to find out more about Vela.