Bespoke Winner 2020
Designer – Studio Woodgate
Maker – Benchmark Furniture
Client – Royal Opera House as part of ‘Legacy’ for LDF 2019
Project facilitator – AHEC
Wood supplier – Morgan Timber
Species – American red oak
“A study in comfort.” —Sebastian Cox
Gracefully poised and immaculately constructed, Duo by Studio Woodgate was born from quiet study and observation. Designed by studio head Terence Woodgate, the sofa offers a masterclass in restraint, elegance and craftsmanship.
Commissioned as part of the London Design Festival’s Legacy project by Alex Beard, chief executive of the Royal Opera House, Duo was developed following an initial consultation by Woodgate. Invited into the Opera House, Woodgate noticed that the room in which Beard met with conductors, artists and supporters of the institution was dependent upon parity and togetherness – all existing furniture in the space was at the same height, creating a group dynamic. As such, Woodgate resolved to create complementary communal seating that could offer more comfort than a bench without slipping into the low-slung slouchiness of a sofa.
Duo is a direct response to its brief, executed with complete mastery of form and technical construction. The CNC-milled rectangular arms have chamfered edges that suggest a softness, while the seat of the solid oak sofa is nestled delicately between them. Throughout the design, the edges of the wood have a subtle 2mm radius, while the seats have been upholstered in a semi-aniline vegetable-tanned leather.
The jury recognised Duo for its sophistication and quiet confidence, as well as the comfort that it affords without compromising its aesthetics. Relying upon a process of subtraction in his design process, Woodgate was able to reduce his vision to its essential elements, while the technical expertise of Benchmark provided the backbone through which it could be brought to life. Starkly geometrical, but with a grace and delicacy engendered by careful detailing, Duo is a perfectly observed response to the needs of the Royal Opera House. It is, in the words of head juror Corinne Julius, “exquisitely made”.