Stools: From the 20th to the 21st century

4 November - 18 December 2021










History of design has generally considered the chair as the most important piece of a designer’s work. But before the chair there was the stool. 


‘The basic problem in furniture design, both historically and practically, is the connecting element between vertical and horizontal parts. I would go as far as to say that this is its determining stylistic factor. In the way it provides a connection with the horizontal level, the chair leg is the little sister of the architectural column.’


Writing these words Alvar Aalto could also have been talking about his iconic stackable stool 60.  Indeed, the design of a stool is based on two elements; a seat supported by one or more legs. Any additional element is an interpretation of the designer.


Each expresses a particular approach to aesthetics but also to his historical context. Poul Hundevad with his “Guldhoj” stool, echoes antiquity and the archaeological discoveries of his time. Ingvar Hildingsson, with his milking stool, creates simple and functional stools expressing the progression of rationalism.Gilbert Marklund takes a stand for comfort with his structures. Pierre Paulin embodies the optimism and dynamic vibes of the 70s with his ‘mushroom’ stool.


African stools, beyond their practicality, are the collective inheritance of a culture. A Mangbetu stool can emphasize the position of women in society while a Ngombe stool can express the status of a chief and the importance of trade… just like nowadays, in some ways, owning a stool by Charlotte Perriand, Pierre Jeanneret or Le Corbusier can be seen as a status symbol.


Inspired or not by modern or African design, designers of our time continue to be inspired by the possibilities of this immanent piece of design and the purpose of this show is also to highlight the creation of young designers in Belgium.  Whether they express themselves through wood like Pierre Coddens, Laura Greindl, Alice Roux, Timon Mattelaer and Linde Freya Tangelder, or through ceramic, wool or aluminum like Lynn SchoonbroodtJoris Verstrepen and Pierre Marc Bonnenfant each of them participates in showing us the Design of tomorrow.