Studio Kiff: A Language of Their Own

Rachel Bussin and Hélène Thiffaut are the co-founders of Studio Kiff, a commercial interior design firm based in Montreal, Canada who have created their own design aesthetic that has

been branded ‘enfant terrible’.

In their recent projects designing jewellery brand Myel’s first showroom and streetwear brand Dime’s Montreal storefront, the aesthetics on display are innovative and bold, demonstrating a confidence in both approach and vision.

“We’re not afraid of doing things that are fun. We get excited when we are working on something and it makes us laugh because it goes against what good design is supposed to be,” Bussin tells us over a video interview, “it’s about looking at things and not thinking that anything is ugly or wrong. If something gives us a reaction, we take a moment to ask why we love it or hate it. Depending on what your goal is and what you’re trying to design, function can be how you feel going inside a room.”

Cue Mariah Carey’s Emotions because it’s hard not to feel anything when you walk into a Studio Kiff designed space. Take Myel for example—a baroque interior where the duo incorporated Jean Paul Gaultier designed wallpaper and lush red carpet, balancing pattern and colour with clean lines—it’s nothing short of a statement. In Dime’s Montreal store (where the brief was an evil boss’ lair), they paired textured wood paneling with white tile floors alongside marble plinths taking reference from individuals they identified as super boss like Missy Elliott.

“We always want to keep high quality and never want to compromise our aesthetic, that’s what makes us unique. Some people might describe us as kitsch but everything we do puts quality first which balances some of our more dramatic choices,” Bussin explains. It is evident that because of their individualistic approach to design, inspiration comes from everywhere: mid-century design, Bauhaus, 90’s toys, nature photography, and of course, Dolly Parton. “We like to reference her when we make business decisions”, Thiffaut quips.

Studio Kiff is a creative force disrupting the design sector by prioritizing quality and collaboration. They are unafraid to take risks and design against standard notions of beauty, asking us to question our own perceptions. The word kiff doesn’t mean anything, it’s a noise, a made-up word that Bussin and Thiffaut liked the sound of when they were conceiving the name for their firm—it’s a language of their own representing their own distinct and unique voice in the design world.