Offering the possibility of either entertaining guests in the evening, or eating a quick breakfast at the kitchen counter in the morning, bar stools are no strangers to a domestic setting. Today’s manufacturers and designers offer a wide choice of materials, from traditional wood to steel, aluminium, and plastic; as well as providing the consumer with abundant possibilities when it comes to backrests, legrests, armrests and upholstery.
1927 saw the modernist designer Eileen Gray design the elegant ‘Bar Stool No.1’ followed by the more playful ‘Bar Stool No. 2’ in 1928; both were in steel and upholstered leather and were used to furnish her iconic summer home E 1027 in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin in the South of France. Both of her designs are now in production by ClassiCon.
In many cases, bar stools are a part of a wider product collection. For example, ‘14 barstool’ and ‘16 barstool’, manufactured by TON, are designed to complement Michael Thonet’s famous bentwood chairs that have been in production since the 19th century. In 1935, Finnish architect Alvar Aalto designed ‘High Chair 64’ and ‘High Chair K65’ to harmonise with his laminated birchwood furniture, which to this day is still manufactured by Artek.
Philippe Starck's 2003 polished aluminium ‘Kong Barstool’ for emeco, and his 2004 cast polycarbonate ‘Charles Ghost’ for Kartell, were also designed as integral parts of their respective collections, but can be used as stand-alone furnishings as well. Starck’s take on traditional forms and modern materials is given a more exaggerated and playful treatment in Marcel Wanders’s colourful ‘new antiques barstool’, launched in 2013 by moooi.
The Swiss Architect Mario Botta, meanwhile, sculpts old Venetian mooring masts with the utmost seriousness, creating his 2010 ‘Bricolages’ range for Riva 1920 as an homage to the famous abstract artist Constantin Brancusi.
Naturally, the modernist striving for minimal elegance still continues to this day, with James Irvine’s height-adjustable ‘S 123 PH’ for Thonet; Jasper Morrison’s tastefully understated ‘Morrison stool’ for Cappellini; and Jukka Setälä’s ‘Form’ barstool for Martela Oyj, whose minimal suggestion of a backrest and slender steel supports form an unobtrusive, yet graceful, addition to any interior.