Lakewood Man Making a Difference With Good Design

Dan Cuffaro, the founder of Abeo Design, wraps up his first order of 32 “Hive” workstations to the Cleveland Institute of Art.

Reuse, repurpose and recycle.

These aren’t just buzzwords for Lakewood resident Dan Cuffaro.

He’s sort of a staking his career on making a difference — through the use of good design.

Cuffaro, the head of Cleveland Institute of Art’s Industrial Design program for the past 10 years, launched the company Abeo Design out of his Lake Avenue home.

In a nutshell, Abeo Design takes the remains of demolished Cleveland-area homes and reuses the reclaimed wood to build eco-friendly, movable and practical workstations called “Hives.” 

The company recently sold its first 32 workstations — bearing an undeniable likeness to beehives — to the Cleveland Institute of Art as the school looks to consolidate its campus. 

Another 98 of them have been ordered.

“I came up with a design that meets the schools’ needs,” he said. “But I quickly realized this has commercial value beyond the Cleveland Institute of Art. They are designed with commercial work environments in mind.”

The Hive retails for about $6,500, but Cuffaro said there are plans in the works to build a smaller, more affordable unit.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Hives will go back to the CIA.

“This will create additional revenue streams beyond tuition,” Cuffaro said.

The Hive comes complete with a work surface, storage shelf and high-efficiency LED lighting, all wrapped up in a structure that allows “user personalization.” The entire system is on wheels, Cuffaro explained, making a studio or office easy to reconfigure as projects or teams change.

“Cubicles can result in a static and monotonous environment, whereas our product is dynamic and customizable alternative,” he said.

“A collaborative workstation that is mobile? No one else is doing this.”

They also keep tons of old growth, high-quality wood from the landfill.

Sixty percent of the workstation is made from repurposed materials; 95 percent is recycled, repurposed and/or recyclable.

Each facet of the businessis local — with manufacturing handled by Benchmark Craftsman of Seville and components produced by A Piece of Cleveland.

“We tried to keep this as local — and in Ohio — as possible,” he said.

School officials are happy with what they’ve seen so far.

“I’m extremely impressed with Hive’s functionality, adaptability and sustainable production process,” said Grafton Nunes, the president of the CIA, in a prepared statement. “With the Hive, Abeo shows us that good design can be highly functional, attractive, and ecologically responsible, as well as enhance the manufacturing base in Northeast Ohio.”

Want to see a Hive first-hand?

One of them will be on display at CIA’s Galleries Faculty Show at the Reinberger Galleries, from Aug. 30 through Oct. 6.

Sandy September 17, 2012 at 11:07 PM
Beautiful design. Great for Ohio.
Pratik Patel September 18, 2012 at 03:26 PM


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