Stools of the trade

After months of bar-hopping research – she did it so that you don’t have to – Nicky Churchill reports back on the most important developments in the world of bar stools

SBHD: After months of bar-hopping research – she did it so that you don’t have to – Nicky Churchill reports back on the most important developments in the world of bar stools

Designing a stool is always far more fun than designing a chair – the research guarantees that! The traditional pub interior may be synonymous with sturdy, dark wooden bar stools, but the contemporary interior, be it the breakfast bar at home, the health club juice bar or a trendy wine bar, provides the designer with the chance to specify a more stylish option.

Today’s bar stool is an elegant structure, typically manufactured from natural materials and providing a showcase for the designer’s creativity. Some are sculptural, such as Philippe Starck’s 1990 design for Wim Wenders’ office, others – like the velvet flower stool by the Italian company Edra – more exotic.

But what’s available and where do you start looking for ideas? As a designer you will know that there isn’t a special category in your product library, so to save you trawling all the latest trendy wine bars in your search for perfection – or to tell you where to go if you insist on seeing them for yourself – We rounded up of the most exciting designs from around Europe.

The Spanish have produced a number of good products by some renowned designers, perhaps not surprising in a country famous for its night life. Indecasa, Amat and Enea all have bar stools that are proving popular in this country.

MacCormac Jamieson Prichard chose Amat’s Jamaica stool for the bar at the Cable & Wireless training college in Coventry. Designed by Pepe Cortes, the Jamaica family has grown over the years to include low stools with or without castors and an optional height adjustment. All models in the range have a revolving seat that is available in anodised cast aluminium or solid beech. It is a well-liked product that continues to do well for its UK agent HNB.

Also of Spanish origin is Arco, designed by JJ Teruel for Enea. The range includes stacking chairs, high and low stools and benches. The latter are becoming a favourite with major corporations for in-house restaurant use. Genslers has specified them for the European Medicine Evaluation Agency (EMEA), National Westminster for its staff restaurant, and over 100 Arco chairs and stools are soon to appear at the Telecom Tower staff restaurant. The seat is shaped and made from self-skinned polyurethane; an upholstered option is available. Contact Atrium for further information.

The Italians keep coming up with new designs too. Flyline, known for its metal seating and tables, showed the new Bon Bons bar stool, a no-nonsense design by Piero de Longhi, at Cologne earlier this year. More recently Magis introduced the elegant Lyra stool, by Design Group Italia. Lyra has a ply-beech seat which has been formed to provide a low back rest, and is supported by four tubular steel legs. There are two sizes of bar stool, and an accompanying low option.

One of the most elegant bar stools I’ve seen is also from an Italian company. Zeus has plenty of stools in its portfolio, but the Crab, by Maurizio Peregalli, has a shape all its own. It is available in two heights with differing seat diameters, and a silver or semi-opaque black frame. Seat options include alderwood, stained mahogany, black leather, or Alcantara in black, red or yellow. The full Zeus range, including new designs by Ron Arad, can be obtained through Viaduct.

Closer to home, British contenders include Sandler Seating, Primo Furniture, Allermuir and Zoeftig & Co, all with a good selection to choose from. The latest Corney & Barrow installations in the City of London, by Malcolm Mills Design Consultants, feature bar furniture from the latter two companies – Allermuir for the Farringdon bar and Zoeftig for the Broadgate site. The new Corney & Barrow site next to Farringdon station uses Allermuir’s Wafer stool in a slick interior where natural materials and bright accent colours tempt local trade. Wafer was also chosen for the warmer interior of the Courtyard bar in Leeds, designed by Architects West and Machel for Bass Inns. The distinctive tapered back of the Wafer range, designed by Peter Christian of Aktiva Systems, follows through to the other pieces, which include caf&#233 chairs, beam seating and multiple seat/table units.

For the refurbishment of the flagship Corney & Barrow bar at Broadgate, Malcolm Mills has drawn on the bars of Barcelona for inspiration. Here he has chosen Zoeftig’s tall Zara bar stools, upholstered in a rich purple. The sophisticated colourings are carried through to the seating areas where Akaba’s Gorka chairs, designed by Jorge Pensi, have been specified throughout. Complementary circular tables were designed by Mills and manufactured by Zoeftig.

The Cornish company has also been involved with the recent Aroma caf&#233s designed by ORMS. One of the first sites at St Martins Lane in London is notable for its wood and steel stools designed by Nigel Coates, but unfortunately this quirky design proved too costly for the future sites. These colourful caf&#233 interiors now feature the Za-za chairs and high stools, designed by Aktiva and again manufactured by Zoeftig.

But when the selection on offer doesn’t fit the bill, why not opt for a one-off to suit the overall scheme? For Cannons Health and Fitness Club in the City of London, David Vickery of The Jenkins Group continued his working relationship with Alan Zoeftig and did just that. The result is a stool which blends with the interior by picking up a number of the surrounding details – the footrest bolts on to the oval tubular legs and the circular leather seat harmonises with the natural finishes while adding the touch of class expected in the City. Though rather delicate in its detail, it is robust enough to stand the wear and tear inherent in a busy environment. Still unnamed, this new stool was on show at Spectrum and is now available to order from Zoeftig & Co.

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