How much for the Cheshire Cat?

I’ve been noticing a new design trend across the industry lately. You might have noticed it, too, if you get a lot of catalogs. It looks a little something like this:

These are stools. Although, I would argue you could also use them as side tables. Have you noticed how many of these are popping up in stores and catalogs? They seem to be everywhere.

The product description for the pastel stools above reads:

“You’ll instantly fall in love with the Kenneth Stool, a chic, contemporary seat that is available in a range of bright, inviting colors. Place one or several in your living room, kitchen, bedroom or home bar for a sophisticated and modern look that is also playful and full of fun personality.”

The thing is…I’ve been wondering if people really buy and use these stools. I am all for modern design and I love the advances that have been made in acrylic furniture and accent decor over the past decades.

However, most of the adults I know don’t really prefer to sit on stools in a furnished room. It’s a little like being seated at the Thanksgiving kid’s table when you’re 40. You can see the comfy sofa across the room, but you have to sit perched like Miss Muffet while making conversation.

(Yes, that’s a stool, too. I can’t decide if the inspiration was a bean bag or a circus clown’s nose.)

Would you offer stools to your guests in your living room? I just don’t think it says, “Welcome, and make yourself at home”. This should be a consideration when you realize that some of these stools can be quite expensive. Like these:

These are made of cork and are $450. Each. I wish there was some way to find out if anyone had ever bought them as a set.

Most Americans decorate their homes in casual-eclectic mix and I’m not sure what decor these colors would join or in what room they would add legitimate seating. For example, I don’t know who these guys are (European boy band reunion?), but I would be a little nervous sitting on these:

You see what I mean?

Now, to be fair, there are some stools that I really do like, such as these classic jardinieres:

I really like the shiny modern finish options. You could use one as a nice side table by an arm chair or even an interesting plant stand in a hallway. Of course, they could also work outside, as they were originally designed to do centuries ago.

This stool, in a garden setting…

…also seems perfectly reasonable and frankly, rather charming. I also like the idea of stools with storage in them:

It could be a real bonus in a kid’s room. Anything that can help clean-up time gets a warm welcome from parents.

Some stools I’ve seen also remind me of something else. Like these, which seem a little like a modern chess pawns to me:

These walnut stools have actually been around for a while. They were designed by Charles and Ray Eames. You can read more about them right here.

Now what does this stool remind you of? Folded paper? Folded cloth? Something…

And some of these stools look downright uncomfortable for the human form. This stool is made of stainless steel:

It would have to be a table in any home setting I can imagine.

“Umm…, thank you. I’ll just stand…and hold my drink.”

All in all, most of these new stools make me think I’ve wandered into the consignment shop of Lewis Carroll’s imagination. What do you think of this current trend? Can you think of a place where you would use a new stool in your home? Leave a comment and share your opinions.

All of the above pictures are linked to their retailers, to make shopping and browsing easy…and to prove I’m not making any of these designs up!

Posted on July 18, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Okay, I really like the idea of the stool being used as a storage bin for a kids room. Sometimes a big wooden toy chest is just to big for a kid to handle. I’m always scared that the lid will catch their little fingers.

    It also occurs to me that a lot of the catalogs and online stores don’t show people in the pictures, so you can’t tell how big the stools are. Your “European Boy Band” picture shows this exactly. Weird!

  2. I would never use any of them as seating…but I plan on getting some blue and white ceramic ones soon to use as plant stands and some Indian bronze metal ones to use as small drink tables by the sofa. Sometimes you need a small, easily movable table, and these fit the bill well.

    • I agree 100% with the idea of using them as tables. Your ideas sound great, Rene! However, you would be surprised at how many people out there can’t see using a piece of furniture beyond its initial purpose/ label. I think the retailers are missing more market appeal by continuing to call them “stools”.

  3. Hmmm…. I think the only one I would consider sitting on is the cute mushroom stool you posted in the garden. The others would cause my back to cry out after about 10 minutes or so from the lack of support and of course no cush for the tush :o). However, I could see using one or two of them for side tables.

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