A row of coloured seats by Holloway Li

Holloway Li releases chubby furniture collection informed by retro 1990s design

British studio Holloway Li has collaborated with furniture producer Uma Objects on T4, a modular collection of chubby seats that evoke designs found in 1990s popular culture and launched during London Design Festival.

The studio's first furniture collection comprises a legless and armless puffy seat made from fibreglass and coloured upholstery.

Its bulbous form was chosen for its association with the rounded furniture designs popular in the 1990s, such as inflatable chairs and the distinctive chair used on the set of the British reality television series Big Brother.

Four colourful chairs in a storage unit
Holloway Li has released its first furniture collection

"We referenced the 90s as a kind of genesis, or starting point of the idea because it's just a bit more fun – something that's not too sober or too polite," said Holloway Li co-founder Alex Holloway.

"It's a bit like if the Big Brother diary room chair and Salvador Dali's sofa had a love child," Holloway told Dezeen, referring to the artist's Mae West Lips sofa.

"We wanted to get the balance between the retro aesthetic but at the same time the optimism that came at that time."

A yellow and an orange chair by Holloway Li
T4 draws on playful shapes popular in the 1990s

The designers chose to name the collection T4 after its previous pieces T1, T2 and T3, which they created for private interior projects including the Bermonds Locke Hotel.

Coincidentally, the name was used for British broadcasting channel Channel 4's cult weekend show T4, which became synonymous with the youthful spirit of the late 90s and early noughties.

The chubby seats, which weigh 30 kilograms each, come in four colour options called Melon Yellow, Blush Pink, Overground Orange and Cream Soda. However, users can also custom order different shades that Uma Objects can produce in its Izmir-based manufacturing site in Turkey.

Holloway Li cofounder and Dezeen Awards 2022 judge Na Li said that the combination of contemporary colours and the seat's retro form results in a "retro-futuristic" design that invokes nostalgia.

"I don't think retro-futuristic has been defined yet, but colour-wise T4 can be considered modern and so we were thinking it's kind of a way of using that nostalgic form but with modern colours," Li told Dezeen.

A blush pink seat called T4
The seats are made from fibreglass

T4's modularity allows multiple chairs to be grouped together to create longer sofas or lounge chairs. Holloway believes that the furniture could be used in commercial as well as residential spaces.

"It would work pretty well in the hospitality environment or a hotel lounge – anywhere like that," he said. "It could be something that's a bit more interesting and a bit more of a talking point."

A modular cream coloured sofa
The individual seats can be combined to form a longer sofa

T4 is not the only puffy piece of furniture to be produced recently. Dezeen columnist and interior trend specialist Michelle Ogundehin argued that bloated curves, chubby upholstery and stout legs would become popular as furniture designers traded minimalist, skinny pieces for thicker shapes.

Designer Lara Bohinc has created a collection of curvy furniture that intends to celebrate the female form, while Ukrainian design brand Faina looked to ancient depictions of ancient goddess sculptures for Domna, a puffy armchair.

The photography is by Uğur Oluş Beklemez.

London Design Festival 2022 took place from 17-25 September 2022. See our London Design Festival 2022 guide on Dezeen Events Guide for information about the many other exhibitions, installations and talks that took place throughout the week.

More images

T4 by Holloway Li and Uma Objects
T4 by Holloway Li and Uma Objects
T4 by Holloway Li and Uma Objects
T4 by Holloway Li and Uma Objects
T4 by Holloway Li and Uma Objects