Kate Stokes and Haslett Grounds
Puku is lazy and playful, inspired by Japanese cartoon characters. Puku is ready to be sat on, jumped on, lay upon or rolled around – durable, versatile, hand-made and full of personality.
Kate Stokes is one half of the duo that makes up Coco Flip, a design studio specialising in furniture and lighting design, that was established in 2010. Originally hailing from Perth, Kate was introduced to the world of design through her studies at Curtin University, where she majored in Industrial Design. Following an illuminating experience displaying a piece of her furniture design at Milan’s SaloneSatellite in her final year at university and several years of work experience in creative management, she was awarded a government-funded ArtStart grant in 2010, allowing her to take the leap into starting her own business, which she now runs with husband Haslett Grounds in Melbourne.Read the designers story See products
Furniture and lighting
The idea for the Puku ottoman’s design first came to Kate in 2012, following a trip to Japan. Kate set out to create a product “an upholstered product with real character”, something that was “cute and playful” in both its design and functionality. “We hope people respond to Puku with affection and enjoy their cute, playful character”, says Kate.
The Puku ottoman is heavily inspired by the animated films of Hayao Miyazaki, Kate says. The product’s cute and relatable design is a result of her intent to embody the “spirit of Japanese cartoon characters”, and she quotes Totoro as a direct influence - a design decision, she says, that helped give the Puku “personality and life”.
Satsuki and Mei sleeping comfortably on Totoro. It's easy to see how Totoro has influenced the Puku.ghibli.jp
It’s designed to add “a little bit of colour without being too overbearing” - perfect for a lounge room, bedroom, or kids room.
Indeed, they have been featured in the Great Hall at the National Gallery of Victoria - something that Kate calls one of her “proudest moments”: seeing the Puku and Puku Nui used just as they were intended. There is also an element of diversity to the Puku: though not initially designed with children in mind, they make an excellent play companion for kids, who seem to love “rolling them and jumping on and over them”. It’s a testament to the Puku’s original design idea - an ottoman with a cute, playful character.
The fabric and the manufacturing process meets all of the requirements of Eco Specifier. It is made with fully sustainable, E-zero MDF which is sustainably sourced, low voc glues (less chemical fumes) are used and the foams and fabric are Eco Specified (certified for environmental friendliness).
Kate and Haslett enlisted the assistance of an expert manufacturer to help ensure “stability and comfort” whilst maintaining the internal structure and design. The Puku ottoman was created over the span of about six months - a time span that Kate mentions is relatively short for them, thanks to their usage of only a single manufacturer and manufacturing process. The product was the first time that Kate had worked with upholstery commercially, she says, so working with a new manufacturer was a bit of a learning experience. In order to stabilise the ottoman itself, the internal structure underwent quite a few revisions. It was important for the Puku to be “extremely comfortable to sit on as well as to put your feet on”, in addition to having “the right amount of podginess”. Ultimately, for Kate, designing the Puku was a “lesson in simplification without letting go of the original concept”. Although the initial design included more elaborate stitching, a minimalistic design that fits with “a wide range of aesthetics and projects” came to be the most important aspect of its creation.
Why we love the Puku
Despite its soft feel and friendly looks, we love how industrially durable the Puku is. The Puku looks simple, but it's design, materials and hand-made manufacturing process has been well thought out. Puku can live comfortably in a wide range of interiors and spaces.