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Behind the design: Leaf Seat

The brainchild of designer Nicolette de Waart, the Leaf Seat has been used in numerous projects for companies like Google’s head office in Dublin, Accor Hotelgroup and MR Architecture in New York.

Earlier this year this multipurpose piece of furniture was awarded a Design Guild Mark, cementing its place as a design for the ages and an example of excellence for furniture designed for volume production.

We caught up with Nicolette, founder of studio Design by Nico, to discover the inspiration behind the Leaf Seat and much more.

What initially inspired you to make the Leaf Seat?

I took inspiration from nature and graphic patterns. The idea emerged during my years living in Singapore. The lack of seasonal weather inspired me to bring a bit of the outdoors indoors.

Can you explain the concept for the Leaf Seat?

When I designed the Leaf Seat, my aim was to create a unique and functional piece of furniture but also beautiful to look at. The single modular shape offers flexibility for residential, offices and public spaces, creating seating arrangements to stimulate communication and interaction between users.

How have you struck the balance between function and design?

Not everyone lives in a big house nowadays, so this seat works perfectly singularly or a number grouped together. For example, seven tessellated Leaf Seat can make a daybed.

Who does the Leaf Seat appeal to?

I am tempted to say it appeals to everybody as the soft, curved features and the warm characteristics of the Kvadrat fabric are very inviting. Specifically, though, it’s suitable for residential use as well as the office and hospitality sector.

How long did the design process take, from initial sketches to roll out?

The initial sketches were developed quite quickly but finding the right manufacturer took quite some time as I had to change it a few times to guarantee high quality, volume and costs.

What modifications did you make along the way?

No modifications were made to the design itself, only the craftsmen used to hand-make the seat. The Leaf Seat might seem easy to make but it is rather complex to upholster, in particular the intricate vein pattern.

What was the most challenging aspect when designing it?

To ensure the piping was invisible and would meet at one single joint.

For more information about Nicolette, go to