Room to Move

Frighetto gave Sean Yoo the freedom to design. He gave them the Freedom sofa.

Having complete freedom to design an object is every designer’s dream. That dream came true for Sean Yoo last year, when Frighetto (, an innovative Italian furniture company, asked him if he was interested in designing for them. The young designer immediately said yes, and about a month later they gave him an assignment with only two words: divano giovane. “Young sofa,” Yoo explains. “They didn’t give me any other requirements or explanations and instead wanted me to define divano giovane as I saw fit.”

Curious about what he came up with, I asked Yoo to talk about the process and result of this design challenge—the Freedom sofa, which debuts here and will be shown at this year’s Salone Internazionale del Mobile, in Milan.

It’s named Freedom because you can sit wherever you want, however you want. Whenever I design a project, the name helps to guide me. It’s like a director for the project.

It has a detachable mini-table that can be put on the back or on the little bench table. With the help of little magnets it snaps right onto the sofa, so that you could put a drink on it without worrying about it spilling.

There’s an unusual curve in the back, and that turned out to be a big problem for the design team to resolve. They had to do several tests to make the form work. The solution was to use double the amount of wood that is typically used for a sofa project. So a lot of the structure went in there to make the form stronger, stable, and consistent.

The chair is made of recyclable polypropylene covered in three-dimensional woven fabric, in a range of colors and textures. The “naked” version, without fabric, can be used outdoors and is available in black, gray, golden brown, green, and red.

I worked on the design for about a month and met with Frighetto to present my initial concept of having the sofa’s back gradually change from high to low and wide to narrow at the same time. They liked it immediately and decided to go ahead with the project the same day, which was amazing because usually there are a lot of back-and-forth discussions.

The proportion was another challenge because it is deeper than the usual sofa. It’s 39 inches deep and a normal sofa is about 35 inches. Because of its unusual proportions, we had to make a full mock-up just to see if it would work.

This back divides the sofa into two main sections: one section for short-term sitting and the other section for long-term lounge sitting.

The low portion of the back is both wide and low enough for sitting as well.

The legs, made of metal chrome tubes, are simple and straightforward.

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