Design Moment: Stool 60, 1933
The perfect coming-together of utilitarianism, minimalism and technical innovation
In the world of contemporary furniture design, has there been a stool as beautifully functional – or as copied? Stool 60 was created by Finnish architect and designer Alvar Aalto (1898-1976) and it was the perfect marriage of his utilitarian philosophy and minimalist aesthetic together with his technical innovations.
Aalto experimented with bent wood – where a piece of wood, such as the leg of the stool, is made by building up thin strips of wood, which are glued together and then bent into a usable shape using heat and steam. The legs in the stool are then screwed into the underside of the round seat, thereby doing away with the complicated business of carpentry joints with their attendant expertise and expense.
Such ease of production fitted in with his idea of making beautiful, accessibly priced furniture. Versions of Stool 60 include a four-legged one and a tall bar stool. In 1935 Alvar and his wife, Aino, founded Artek to manufacture their work, and the Finnish company still makes Aalto furniture to the original design. Such is its simple shape and make, Stool 60 is much copied.
Its success is not simply its functionalism as a stool that can be stacked away when not needed but that it works equally well as a bedside table or a side table.