Virtual Design Festival

Cuff Studio's furniture unites "femininity with some testosterone"
The Arc chair and Paddle table feature the same gently rounded shapes

Cuff Studio's Common Ground furniture and lighting collection unites "femininity with some testosterone"

Los Angeles-based Cuff Studio is presenting a collection of furniture and lighting as part of the VDF x Sight Unseen collaboration, which balances angular, architectural shapes with playful, feminine touches.

The Common Ground series consists of two tables, a bench, an armchair and a light, each of which embodies the studio's characteristic design language.

The pieces are being exhibited as part of Offsite Online, a virtual show curated by contemporary design showcase Sight Unseen.

"We’ve always identified with curves and edges, casual with formality, femininity with some testosterone," explains Kristi Bender, one half of the duo behind Cuff Studio.

Cuff Studio's furniture unites "femininity with some testosterone"
The Arc bench is finished with leather upholstery

In line with this philosophy, the Arc bench, chair and console table are all based on the classic architectural feature of the arch.

But in the two seating designs, this masculine shape is contrasted with plush leather or pink velvet upholstery.

And the otherwise solid volume of the console is punctured with brass-filled channels to allow light to pass through, while hand-chiselled grooves on the exterior imbue the geometric shape with a more organic feel.

Cuff Studio's furniture unites "femininity with some testosterone"
Irregular grooves are hand-chiselled into the surface of the Arc console table

The studio has given a traditional material like solid oak a modern spin for its Paddle table, by bleaching it to a clean shade of white and rounding off its almost ten centimetre thick edges to create a playful, chubby silhouette.

Elsewhere in the collection, an otherwise flexible material like rope is wrapped onto a rigid, tubular frame to create the Five Track Surface Light, which can be mounted to the walls or ceiling.

Solid oak is given a modern update in the Paddle table

By uniting these different design elements in one cohesive collection, the studio hopes to show that it is possible for contrasts to co-exist comfortably, both in design and in a wider social context.

"This collection really leans into the common elements that form a thread between not just our work but so much in art and design," explains Wendy Schwartz – the second half of the Cuff Studio team.

"There is such political polarisation in the world. With Common Ground, we are examining how the creative process brings us together, unites us."

Beyond natural white cotton, the Five Track Surface Light also comes in a rainbow array of other colours

The collection was first released in early 2020, in the duo's newly opened studio in Hollywood.

"Rather than launching this small collection to the press or to buyers, we chose to celebrate the opening of our studio and these pieces with other makers – those who share our common ground of design, art, building, creating and hard work," explained Bender.

“Little did we know then just how meaningful it is to make in-person connections with the artisans and brands we follow on social media, those who we respect and are inspired by here in Los Angeles.”

The lighting design sees rope hand-wrapped around a tubular frame

VDF x Sight Unseen
Cuff Studio
Project title: Common Ground
Email: [email protected]

From 15 April to 30 June 2020 Dezeen is playing host to Virtual Design Festival, the world's first online design festival.

Sight Unseen is a New York-based digital magazine that covers design and visual arts, as well as curating exhibitions such as the annual Sight Unseen Offsite event.

The VDF x Sight Unseen collaboration presents projects by 51 international designers as an extension of this year's virtual Offsite Online exhibition.

More images

The Arc chair is an evolution of the brand's U Chair
It features soft pink velvet upholstery
The console table is punctured with copper light tunnels
Common Ground is being exhibited as part of Sight Unseen's Offsite Online showcase