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Refined Luxury with Cuff Studio

It always feels like a beautiful alignment when we come across brands that share our intent as well as our esthetic. To celebrate the launch of Meadow, Cuff Studio recently curated an effortlessly stylish vignette at our San Francisco showroom featuring pieces from their new line of covetable furniture and furnishings. Below, we speak to Wendy Schwartz who, alongside co-founder Kristi Bender, has championed female-led business, sustainable design and quality craftsmanship.

Showroom photography by Bess Friday
Campaign photography by Ori Harpaz

What was the first piece of design that mattered to you?

It’s a combination. Some were a collection of vintage pieces (Gilbert Rhode and Paul Frankel) that I sourced for my very first design project nearly 23 years ago, but still love today. The project was my parents’ home and so someday these pieces will be mine. But now, the most important are those from the Cuff Studio collection which we hope might become classics. Our product is designed to create warm and welcoming environments that are beautiful and practical, inspiring and useful – spaces intended to be the foundation of memories and shared experiences. Nothing would matter or mean more to both of us than for Cuff Studio’s furnishings to be loved and enjoyed for generations.

Tell us how Cuff Studio came to be.

Since 2008, we have successfully partnered to lead our business. Initially focused on interior design, we pivoted in 2018 to become the product studio we are today. We are both simultaneously creative and pragmatic. My primary role is to innovate and to lead our designs forward while Kristi’s is to inspire and drive our brand and profile. Together, we make a strong duo, working hand in hand to run and grow our all-women-run and all-women-operated California brand. The name ‘Cuff’ – as in a cuff bracelet – is derived from an original intention to produce accessories for the home. While our focus has been on furniture, lighting, and wallpapers, we did finally launch our first-ever object this year – the Solana Ikebana. We have concepts for additional objects in development.

Solana Chaise and Channel Swivel Chair

Your products are designed and made in Los Angeles. What is it about natural materials and quality craftsmanship that inspires you?

Cuff Studio’s designs are inspired by natural materials and a respect for the tradition of hand-hewn fabrication by trained artisans. Each Cuff Studio piece is intended to sustain the test of time. The natural and varied landscapes of mountains, beaches, and deserts along with geometric form, architecture, and lifestyle regularly inspire our timeless, modern, relaxed, and refined luxury home furnishings.

How do environmental considerations come into play in your creative process?

Our commitment to sustainability starts at conception and expands to our long-standing manufacturing partnerships. We mainly work on a made-to-order basis with California-based FSC-certified workrooms. Our partners are chosen for exceptional craftsmanship as well as for their dedication to preserving skills and training a new generation of apprentices. We blend centuries-old, time-honored traditional techniques with the advancements of modern technology, utilizing the best each has to offer in energy efficiency and waste reduction. The made-to-order model negates overproduction and minimizes the carbon footprint from warehousing. We produce using FSC-approved and sustainably harvested woods paired with natural fibers including leather, cotton, and wool. Eco-friendly non-treated latex upholstery fillings and oil-based finishes are available options.

Your designs have long been the go-to for trade professionals. How did you curate your new Cuff Core line to meet the needs of consumers?

After years of working in interior design and with our cherished trade customers we recognize the value in streamlining the process. Cuff Core is Cuff Studio’s first ready-to-order curated collection of fundamental Cuff Studio furniture, lighting, and wallpaper. All finishes and fabrics for the Cuff Core collection have been thoughtfully pre-selected. All lead times are 5-7 weeks. All shipping pricing is pre-calculated. Cuff Core is intended for interior projects of uncompromised quality, but those for which shortened timelines, simplified procurement, and logistics are essential.

Block Bench and C Back Upholstered Chair

Can you share a bit about the pieces currently on display at Armadillo’s San Francisco showroom?

The architecture of the San Francisco location, paired with the color and tactility of the Meadow rug [in] Seagrass, guided our selections. We were thrilled by the opportunity to upholster the still very new Slant Sofa in Dedar Milano’s recently unveiled Palomar – a formal but playful pure wool satin embellished in a chain stitch embroidery. The Fold Screen, in a newly introduced high gloss black lacquer finish and inspired by Ellsworth Kelly, is a five-panel mobile screen that was layered to articulate and punctuate the display along with our Cuff Core’s Upholstered C Back in pine green mohair and leather. We added go-to favorites Ren Ceramics and Lost Art Salon to complete the installation.

Arc Bench and C Back Upholstered Chair

Our newest rugs, Meadow and Willow, are designed for sophisticated play. What kind of lifestyle do you imagine for your end-users?

“Sophisticated play” sounds about right and aligns with how we and many of our end-users live as well. Our lifestyles are considered yet casual, engaged, and dimensional. We host friends and family regularly. We want our surroundings to be beautiful but never too precious. Modifiers used to describe our product and customers include timeless, modern, refined, and relaxed – [so] Meadow and Willow layer seamlessly.

Interiors or otherwise, what’s been inspiring you lately?

Rick Rubin’s approach to the creative process paired with novel materiality will likely be a driving force in new introductions. Lately, I’ve found myself inspired by 80s California modern and 1920s French modern jewelry, objects and architecture. Excited to see how all of this plays out and layers with Cuff Studio’s existing collection.

Wendy Schwartz and Kristi Bender