It may be a familiar shape in 2013, but Alvar Aalto’s Stool 60 was a revolutionary design when it was introduced (to rave reviews) in 1933. Simple and stackable, this wooden stool represented a new approach to furniture design, using wood instead of bent steel (much more common at the time) and the technical development of the L-shaped leg. The aesthetic carried the appeal of Bauhaus-inspired modernism and represented Artek’s design tenets of technology, art and ethics.
Legend has it that Aalto tested the sturdiness of his three-legged stool by repeatedly throwing the prototype to the floor at the Kohhonen furniture factory, shouting, “We’ll make thousands of these one day!” In fact, Artek has already sold millions of this famous design, which celebrates its 80th anniversary this year. To commemorate the anniversary, Artek is introducing a series of re-imagined stools, designed by well-known architects and designers.
One of the first introductions comes from designer Mike Meire, who added pops of color to the stool’s round seat and each of the three distinctive legs. Here’s a closer look at the careful hand painting that happens to put these stools together (without a lick of painter’s tape in sight, I might add):
Another version injected color into the stool top only, with color options inspired by those used in the Paimo Sanitorium in Finland, which Aalto designed in 1932. The building is now part of a university hospital, but the original served as a tuberculosis sanatorium:
The re-introduction I’m pining over most comes from Commes des Garcons, in which designer Rei Kawakubo dresses up the austere natural birch with a striking black and white pattern—sort of a modern take on polka dots (and I never met a polka dot I didn’t like). The design is reminiscent of fashions seen on Commes des Garcons runways.
Which reinterpretation of Aalto’s famous design is your favorite?