After returning from architectural internships in Rome and New York, Alexander Josephson discovered a Restoration Hardware catalog resting on his parents' kitchen counter. "There's a divide in furniture design," says the founder of Toronto-based architecture group Partisans. "There's mass-consumer taste and what architecture designers actually want to produce." So he fused the two. Inspired by the classic tufted leather bench—"It's that object everyone wants to buy for their library"—Josephson used 3-D modeling software to create fractal patterns that lend the look to other materials. A wood bench like this one costs up to $5,000, but Partisans can produce a concrete version for just $500. "I'm planning to drop them off in public spaces," Josephson says. And for park visitors who skeptically eye the bench's curves, Josephson offers an assurance: "It's really comfy." (Price upon request, partisanprojects.com)
A version of this article appeared in the November 2012 issue of Fast Company magazine.