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The mellow, rhythmic interplay of surf and sand feels naturally calibrated to relax us. The modular, low-slung Surf sofa, designed by Toronto- and New York City–based design firm Yabu Pushelberg for Italian manufacturer Molteni&C, channels that inherent dynamic.

Like its namesake, Surf doesn’t retain a rigid, constant shape. With central, chaise, corner, island and terminal elements — the longest of which is just two metres — it adapts to its setting and can be easily configured to suit residential or commercial purposes. Each juncture maintains a smooth, contoured silhouette rather than creating a distinct visual break.

Available in linen, leather and other well-wearing upholstery, it has a defined form, but straight lines are almost entirely absent. And with a minimum of visible stitching, it has the subdued (albeit powerful) appearance of an incoming swell.

“I love the attention to detail shown in this sofa, and the fact that both the back and the front are elegant.”
Luca Nichetto, AZ Awards juror

Of course, the seashore can also be a place of recreation and lively socializing. From the outset of the design process, Yabu Pushelberg envisioned the progression of a housewarming party. Early on, guests simply take a seat. Later, when more arrive, the role of the sofa changes. People approach it from all angles; they sit, perch and lean on it. The curved back — a gentle cantilever supported by an unseen sturdy metal frame — caters to guests’ utilitarian impulses. People define how Surf is used, its shape only suggesting how best to interact with it.

In its ergonomic curves, generous cushioning and multi-faceted form, Surf feels less like a manufactured object than one that has been shaped by environmental phenomena — a testament to what skilled designers can accomplish when they let nature take its course.

Designer Yabu Pushelberg, Toronto, Canada and New York City, U.S. Manufacturer Molteni&C, Giussano, Italy

AZ Awards 2020 Winner: Surf Sofa

Yabu Pushelberg’s curvy seating for Molteni&C crests to a win in the Design: Furniture category.

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