The essentials: 20 of the best stools

Emblem of versatility, the stool is the free agent of home furnishings: transportable when needed, easily used as a shelf, perfect for sitting but also for resting your feet.  

Transformist by nature, so much so that it eludes its own definition, the stool is the piece of furniture that has most embodied the flexibility and inspiration required by our small domestic spaces.

Programmed to favour a "dynamic staticity", that of those who use it to move much more freely than they would on a classic chair, the stool was born as a humble piece of furniture for work environments, for craftsmen's workshops and then for industrial warehouses, where it will establish itself as the seat of the working class. And yet, in spite of this background that does not make it a fancy living room accessory, the stool has been rethought countless times by all the great designers of the last century, perhaps intrigued by the comparison with this apparently non-essential piece, but whose vocation remains that of functioning as a real passepartout.

As well as being versatile, the stool has also established itself as a playground for great experimentation within the history of design, from Alvar Aalto's famous L-shaped leg, to the most surrealist examples of the Castiglioni brothers' ready-made objects, to all the insights into the oxymoronic qualities of its materials, transforming it into an ironic as well as exquisitely sentimental object. Moreover, and the latest examples in this gallery will prove it, despite its longevity, the stool has all the potential to be reinterpreted and redesigned an infinity of times.  

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