The lounge armchair Kudo is Leolux's first collaboration with the Cologne design duo kaschkasch. Florian Kallus and Sebastian Schneider founded their studio in 2011. They designed over a hundred products for many German and international clients in furniture, lighting and much more. Yet Kudo is an outright first.
Visiting the studio in Cologne's Zollstock district, Florian and Sebastian tell us that Kudo is also a baptism of fire for them. "Interestingly enough, this is the first armchair we have designed. We have made one-seaters as a derivative of a sofa programme before, but never a lounge armchair like this one. So Kudo is a design we have always wanted to make. Really a lounge chair in the classic typology, with a matching footstool to go with it."
The gentlemen from kaschkasch had been eyeing a collaboration with Leolux for some time. "We had been following developments at Leolux with great interest for several years. The brand was anything but static and that appealed to us. Leolux has always stood out from the crowd, with its very own DNA. So we wrote an e-mail during the corona pandemic to get acquainted. And then it actually went very quickly. A video call followed, in which we decided to meet in person as soon as possible. We waited for the lockdown and visited Venlo as soon as we could. There, we met Sebastiaan Sanders (director) and Jet Dircks (innovation and portfolio manager) and were given a tour of the production. A very pleasant first impression; we were excited about the production possibilities and there was a very friendly and relaxed atmosphere."
"A few weeks later, we received the briefing and set to work designing an armchair. For us, it was very nice that Leolux's briefing was very open and free. Sometimes clients already indicate very specifically what they want and you have a bit less room to manoeuvre. That was totally different here. Moreover, we know from Dutch brands that they are not afraid to come up with distinctive designs."
Because of the freedom in the brief, Kudo also became a real kaschkasch design. "If you look at our designs, you will see that they are all somehow reduced to the essence. We are always looking for an attractive form without being too noisy. That 'reduced' design gives room for intuitive usability. You always see very clearly in our designs the essence of the purpose for which they were developed. In this case, that is ergonomics, and seating comfort. But at the same time, the design should not become emotionless. We are always juggling these parameters during the design process."
At one point, Sebastian and Florian knew they had found the basic shape for their Leolux armchair. "We were working on the shell and upholstery and then suddenly there was this 'offset', this difference between the edge of the shell and the cushion. We stood looking at it in the studio and knew immediately. We had found the concept for this chair. It gives the armchair a soothing, casual character. The cushion has all the space it needs to lie quietly in the shell."
Finding the concept is one thing, but turning it into a full-fledged armchair is two. "The transition from the idea in our heads to the actual chair was not easy. After we created a computer drawing and a 3D print, the design didn't work well. We didn't want the armchair to look too flat. Surely there had to be a certain curve in it, making it a bit less angular. In the 3D model, the effect of the round shapes was disappointing. It was important that the seat shell had a 'surface tension' that maximises the idea of lightness and comfort. So we made the curves more solid. Now there is a certain tension in every line."
A Leolux piece of furniture must perfectly match its owner's style and personality. Therefore, it is important that a design can handle a lot of variation. "When we were given a tour of the Leolux production on our first visit, we immediately noticed how much is possible. Endlessly much. That makes designing for Leolux very interesting and challenging. Because initially you think that designing an armchair is much simpler than designing a sofa programme. But actually you're designing a kind of system after all. Kudo comes with a high and a low back, two different bases, with and without armrests and you can also have the shell and the cushion in different materials. Not to mention all the colour options. To bring that 'configurability' into the design was a special challenge."
Kudo is Kaschkasch's first armchair and also its first collaboration with Leolux. A collaboration at eye level, according to Florian and Sebastian. "It felt very natural to work with Leolux. Very unassuming and accessible. We had hoped for that beforehand and fortunately it turned out that way. And besides, the craftsmanship is everywhere. In production but also outside it. Every time we came to Venlo for a meeting, the new models were ready. Prepared down to the last detail, so that we could really concentrate on our job: perfecting the design. Then each time you take a nice step and you see that the model is getting further and further along. And if you look back now, you see that Kudo really has travelled quite a journey. To an armchair where we are proud of every detail."