Bar stools make any flat surface suitable for drinking, dining or working in comfort and style. With so many sizes, materials, features and applications available, it’s time to sit up and take notice.

An imperative design choice at home or in hospitality settings, bar stools mix comfort with function, while their varying materials and styles can blend into or contrast with any environment

Stooled up: designer bar stools to stand by and sit on | News

An imperative design choice at home or in hospitality settings, bar stools mix comfort with function, while their varying materials and styles can blend into or contrast with any environment

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The ultimate compromising furniture piece, stools swap the greater comfort of a chair for increased functionality, movability and adjustability, with more applications in more varied locations that more comfortable chairs simply don’t reach.


Stools swap the greater comfort of a chair for increased functionality, movability and adjustability


Their slimmer size keeps them out of the way when out of use, while a simplified construction cuts down on material use. But that doesn’t mean bar stools suffer from limited design, with a huge range of types, styles, materials and design features. Here are some of the key differences specifiers can choose from.

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Both Riva 1920’s carved Coppa stool (top) and Thonet’s bentwood 404H stool (bottom) use the strength and natural look of wood to create sensual forms, in very different ways

Stooled up: designer bar stools to stand by and sit on | News

Both Riva 1920’s carved Coppa stool (top) and Thonet’s bentwood 404H stool (bottom) use the strength and natural look of wood to create sensual forms, in very different ways

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Make up: bar stool materials

Wood is a natural, tactile material that’s both strong and formable. It’s a natural and obvious choice, then, for Riva 1920’s Coppa stool. Carved from a single block of cedar wood, Coppa has a simple, stable construction. But the block form can be heavy and thus difficult to manoeuvre. Thonet’s historic bentwood manufacturing process features heavily in the brand’s curved 404H bar stool, meanwhile, with bent laminate and moulded plywood making up its strong, but lighter form.

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The Miura stool (top) from Plank injection-moulds polypropylene around a steel frame for rigidity, while BD Barcelona’s Jamaica Stool (bottom) stays stable with a five-point star base

Stooled up: designer bar stools to stand by and sit on | News

The Miura stool (top) from Plank injection-moulds polypropylene around a steel frame for rigidity, while BD Barcelona’s Jamaica Stool (bottom) stays stable with a five-point star base

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Lightweight design and a strong, one-piece construction are combined in Plank’s injection-moulded Miura stool, with a steel frame reinforcing its polypropylene shell, and both materials fully recyclable. Another recyclable material, meanwhile, with an excellent strength-to-weight ratio, is aluminium. BD Barcelona’s aluminium Jamaica Stool understands that the lighter a stool gets, the more unstable it is, so remains upright with a five-point star base.

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Bonaldo’s three-legged Plumage stool (top) makes contrasting easy, Team 7’s Ark stool (middle) stands up straight and Gaber’s Freedom stool (bottom) integrates a footrest

Stooled up: designer bar stools to stand by and sit on | News

Bonaldo’s three-legged Plumage stool (top) makes contrasting easy, Team 7’s Ark stool (middle) stands up straight and Gaber’s Freedom stool (bottom) integrates a footrest

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Base camp: bar stool bases

With more stability and additional visual interest, three-, four- or five-point bases are a common choice. Bonaldo’s Plumage stool, for example, utilises all the aforementioned materials at once with stunningly contrasting colour and texture. If clean, straight lines are your bag, however, then fixing one leg to each seat corner provides a nicely squared, ordered quality. With four straight edges, a line of stools like Team 7’s Ark has a pleasingly organised military look to it, when they’re all standing to attention at the bar.


With more stability and additional visual interest, three-, four- or five-point bases are a common choice


When balanced on a single, central base, stools can keep environmental aesthetic noise down further still. But without the horizontal structure that multi-legged stools have, the question of the footrest requires the design of a more artificial solution. Thankfully solving problems is what designers live for, and by incorporating a footrest into the shape of the seat itself, Gaber’s Freedom stool keeps its sleek, minimalist central base on point.

Although heavier and more difficult to move, bar stools with thicker upholstered backs like Minotti’s Aston stool support and envelop the whole lower back

Stooled up: designer bar stools to stand by and sit on | News

Although heavier and more difficult to move, bar stools with thicker upholstered backs like Minotti’s Aston stool support and envelop the whole lower back

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Balancing act: bar stool comfort vs weight

This balance between comfort and weight, both visual and physical, applies at the other end of the stool, too. Flat seats, either upholstered or moulded for comfort, are easier to lift and move, but those that put more weight on the importance of comfort, like Minotti’s Aston stool, feature larger curved backrests that hold the full lower back in place.

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The DamST stool (top) effortlessly integrates armrests, the teardrop-shaped Fiorile stool (middle) reaches the perfect height and users can take the Tom & Jerry corkscrew stool (bottom) for a spin

Stooled up: designer bar stools to stand by and sit on | News

The DamST stool (top) effortlessly integrates armrests, the teardrop-shaped Fiorile stool (middle) reaches the perfect height and users can take the Tom & Jerry corkscrew stool (bottom) for a spin

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By attaching armrests to seat backs, designers of stools like DamST for Arrmet allow users to sit up straight, rather than lean forward to gain arm support. But a comfortable sitting position is also one at the perfect height. The Fiorile stool’s teardrop-shaped leather seat shell adjusts to a hydraulically altered height. Similar to footrests, however, height-adjusting levers can affect a stool’s otherwise-sleek silhouette. One alternative is spinning corkscrew mechanisms like the one in MagisTom & Jerry stool. The main benefit here is the fun to be had, spinning yourself around, up and down. Just don’t let your mum catch you.

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Both Dvelas’ Ris stools (top) and Riga Chair’s Bloom Bar stools (middle, bottom) are perfect for temporary hospitality use, either folding or stacking away neatly

Stooled up: designer bar stools to stand by and sit on | News

Both Dvelas’ Ris stools (top) and Riga Chair’s Bloom Bar stools (middle, bottom) are perfect for temporary hospitality use, either folding or stacking away neatly

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Temporary function: bar stools that are easy to store

With the ability to tuck themselves under a counter, height-adjustable stools are increasingly functional, especially those that lie flat to aid cleaning. But the temporality of modern hospitality venues can mean stools need to be cleared away and stored elsewhere, often on a daily basis. Folding stools slim themselves down, but the extra movement in their joints puts additional strain on their construction. The use of thick plywood in DvelasRis high stools brings strength and stability, while the use of recovered sails gives rigidity and flex.


The temporality of modern hospitality venues can mean stools need to be cleared away and stored elsewhere, often on a daily basis


Stools unwilling to fold can instead opt to stack. Although labelled as ‘stackable’, in reality, many poorly balanced stools will tip over easily in groups larger than a handful. But lightweight circular stools like Bloom Bar from Riga Chair have no front or rear, so can be stacked up to limitless heights. At just 6mm thick, the moulded plywood stool’s strength comes from its waved legs, ensuring a stable connection.

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