Are you sitting comfortably? Or may be you are on the hunt for a new three-legged seating friend? Here is my pick of five of the best stools! In celebration of the Galvin Brothers recent opening of their bricks and mortar store in Beverley, Yorkshire (11 Flemingate, HU17 0NP), my first pick is their signature stool, the English Pippy Oak Milk stool (£170). Pippy Oak, or Cat’s Paw Oak, is so named because of its characteristic pips or knots. The open, light nature of English woodlands, hedgerows and parks encourages ‘epicormic growth’, the shoots or buds, on tree trunks and at their base. These tumour-like growths penetrate deep into the tree’s heart wood. The grain moves around the knots to create beautiful patterns, revealed as ‘cat’s paws’ on the board The stool is handmade, with peg-and-wedge leg joints. Its clean, modern form is given distinct character by the unique pattern of the Pippy Oak. A rustic gent with potential as a stool, side or occasional bedside table. The stools are finished in Danish oil and the dimensions are 300 x 460 x 300mm.
The second stool makes good use of the things that are found as by-products, or off cuts of industrial production processes. The top of Tom Dixon‘s Offcut Stool is made from the waney edge, edge that follows the natural curve of the tree (as in waning moon). This irregular edge is often discarded, hence the name ‘Offcut’ stool. Made of solid oak and finished with a natural soaped finish, the stool comes flat-packed (with efficiencies of packaging and distribution) and is easily assembled using wooden pegs rather than screws or glue. Simple and honest. Available from Tom Dixon or Heal’s from £140.
The third entry, Pippa Murray’s Just Wood stool also makes use of the neglected, in this case our unmanaged British woodlands. The legs of the stool are greenwood shavings that have been moulded using a process developed by Pippa as part of her final year research project studying Design Products at the Royal College of Art. Greenwood shavings are a by-product of coppicing hardwood trees, a traditional form of woodland management. The moulded material is strong, polymer free and bio degradable.
Dipped vintage lab stools from Ines Cole (£125, H 61 x W 34 x D 38 cm) have been taken back to their natural wood and then given a dip dye makeover sealed with a matt finish. A simple piece of upcycling that conjures up nostalgic images of my old school science lab, and perfect for the industrial vintage look. If you fancy a more colourful alternative, you can find similar stools at reclamation yards or antiques fairs and try a DIY dip.
If not DIY, then what about grow your own? Typically there is 50-80% wastage in normal process of transforming raw timber to finished products. The Well Proven stool by Marjan van Aubel and James Shaw makes use of shavings, sawdust and chippings. When combined the mixture of bio-resin and waste shavings create a chemical reaction that expands into a foamed structure five times its original volume. The porridge like mixture can be coloured with dyes and moulded. It hardens to form a strong, lightweight material, reinforced by the fibres in the hardwood shavings. The ‘porridge’ is spread over the underside of a chair and shaped by hand around the contrastingly elegant turned legs of American ash. The fore-runner of the stool, the Well-Proven Chair was nominated for the Design of the Year 2013 Award an developed with the support of the American Hardwood Export Council. The stools were on display as part of Heal’s Modern Craft Market in February 2014.
Image credits: Galvin Bros, Ines Cole, James Shaw, Pippa Murray Design, Tom Dixon Studio,