Celebrating the premiere of our exclusive reimagining of Alvar Aalto's 20th-century classic Stool 60, we take a deep dive into the rich history of the functionalist furniture design pinnacle.
Designed in 1933, the Stool 60 was commissioned for the municipal library at Viipuri, with the brief seeking a stackable, versatile seating solution, precisely what the Stool 60 came to be. Its public unveiling was just a stone's throw away from our current London Stores, proudly presented at London's Fortnum & Mason in November of that year, at the Finnish furniture exhibition 'Wood Only.'
The first of its kind, the Stool 60's signature silhouette resulted from bending a piece of birch to a 90-degree angle. Thus, the innovative L-leg was formed, eliminating the need for a complicated framework or support and creating Aalto's signature streamlined aesthetic. The most elemental of furniture pieces, the stool functions faultlessly as a seat, table, storage unit, or display surface.
Its birch legs are mounted directly to the underside of the round seat without the need for complicated connecting elements. Thanks to this geometry, the stool can be stacked, creating a space-saving "spiralling tower of design classics." Along with its four-legged cousin, the Stool E60, millions of units have been sold, asserting the Stool 60 as the most popular stool of all time. It was also added to the MoMA’s permanent collection in 1958.
The longevity of the stool is guaranteed from the onset, with 42 intricate steps involved in its production at the 'A-Factory' in Turku, Finland. Artek, a synthesis of the words ‘art' and 'technology,' has been the sole manufacturer of the Stool 60 since its founding in 1935. The Finnish brand was created by a group of young idealists to "sell furniture and to promote a modern culture of living," since acclaimed for its functional, fundamentalist aesthetic.
As cherished by the lucky design aficionados that own a Stool 60, it truly is a design built for a lifetime, and longer. Campbell Thompson, Head of Furniture and Lighting at The Conran Shop, stipulates that "the Stool 60 is a stool that you'll keep for life, a beautifully simple stool that stacks for easy storage and used by customers as either a stool or side table in the living room, or equally, as a bedside table in the bedroom. The overall attraction is its quiet and timeless elegance that can be worked into any interior."
The stool's timeless elegance is the driving factor behind its countless reissues, with esteemed designers and brands offering their take on the design over the course of its nearly 90-year existence. In the past decade alone, Jo Nagasaka's ColoRing version celebrated one hundred years of strong diplomatic relations between Finland and Japan, Hella Jongerius re-envisioned it in honey and walnut hues, Supreme spotlighted it with a checkerboard seat, and The Conran Shop proudly honoured it not once, but thrice.
Throughout our exclusive makeovers, the Stool 60 has been awarded a sense of new modernity. First dressed in our very own eye-catching graphic upholstery, the colourful and bold pattern was inspired by an original design that adorned our carrier bags for decades, created by James Pyott under the mentorship of Sir Terence Conran. Next, the limited-edition 'Grey Stain' version subtly accented and refreshed the design's silhouette whilst enhancing the visible wood grain; each finished with a linoleum top in a complementary colour palette.
Furthering our affinity with linoleum as well as the partnering of two great brands, the 2021 special edition flaunts the natural and tactile qualities of the linoleum to offer an enduring, low-maintenance and elegant finish. Each of the seven considered hues has been specially chosen to breathe new life into the classic design and prolong the legacy of Alvar Aalto, marked by a commemorative label for an unforgettable collector's item.