This stool is a prototype made by French designer Patrick Naggar, who trained as an architect at the École des Beaux-Arts and places architecture at the center of his design practice in order to experiment with forms and structures. Naggar also trained in urban studies and his approach to design brings together the functional and symbolic and mixes “noble” and “poor” materials.

This stool is a strong example of Naggar’s design philosophy: the triangular seat is reminiscent of a saddle – associated with a traditional mode of transportation – but here it is made into a modern, static piece of furniture. The seat and rear support are made of painted sycamore, which recalls ebony, a rare and exotic material, while the front leg, made of aluminum, is a common and relatively inexpensive industrial material. The design of the stool also shows Naggar’s architectural approach to furniture design with the wide, thin back support and the narrow, tubular central front leg working together to provide balance and stability. Naggar says that each of his designs tells a story: what could the sharp “teeth” on the front leg be telling us? Perhaps it is a cautionary tale about getting too comfortable…

Catherine Powell is a candidate in the MA History of Design and Curatorial Studies program offered at Parsons School of Design jointly with Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. She is a fellow in the Product Design and Decorative Arts curatorial department of the Cooper Hewitt.

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