Artek Celebrates 90 Years of Stool 60
New Anniversary Editions
The most elemental of furniture pieces, Artek’s humble three-legged Stool 60 designed by Alvar Aalto, celebrates its 90th anniversary in 2023. Born of modernist ideals and Finnish innovation, its great legacy and continued relevance owe much to Alvar Aalto’s original vision for a universal object made entirely from native birch wood. Remaining in continuous production since 1933, Stool 60 has barely changed in either material or form, yet it continues to transcend both time and fashion. Deliberately informal, it is not tied to specific functions or settings, but travels easily between all spheres of private homes and public spaces. Its simplicity and honesty have ensured its timelessness; its ingenious construction and durability allow each stool to age with grace.
Every Stool 60 is manufactured in Finland in a unique process honed over decades, combining modern production methods and skilful craftmanship. In 48 production steps, solid birch wood from Finnish forests is bent into the stool’s characteristic L-shaped legs and the offcuts from the leg production are used to make the stool’s circular seat. With this minimum of components Stool 60 is flat-packed, making transport both economical and ecological. Through the timber’s individual features and natural beauty, each stool gains its own unique character, developing a rich patina and ageing with grace over the years.
To mark the 90th anniversary, special editions of the stool have been developed by Artek’s own design team (Kontrasti and Loimu) and in collaboration with architect Tsuyoshi Tane (Sleeping Beauty), and design studio Formafantasma (Villi). Each edition commemorates Stool 60’s great virtues – its unique construction and responsible production values, the beauty and variety to be found in Finnish wood, Stool 60’s ageless longevity as well as its low ecological impact.
Stool 60 Sleeping Beauty in collaboration with Tsuyoshi Tane
Inspired by the concept of graceful aging, while paying homage to the near-century old trees used in the making of each stool, Tsuyoshi Tane’s Stool 60 Sleeping Beauty explores ways to capture the patina of age and experience in a new edition. By burying raw birch sections in soils collected from different sites in Japan, Tane examined the effect each had on the untreated wood. Sections submerged in calcium-rich soil took on a red hue, while volcanic- or aluminium-laden soil resulted in the wood taking on black or grey tones respectively. This homage to the geo-histories rooted in the soil lends a materiality to time and is a poetic response to the time-honoured Stool 60.
Stool 60 Kontrasti
This edition celebrates the ingenious construction of the stool. By inserting veneer sheets into incisions in each leg, birch wood is given the necessary flexibility to be bent into the desired L-shape. For Stool 60 Kontrasti thermo-treated birch veneer in a contrasting tone is used for the wood bending process to highlight the beauty of this great innovation. The same darker veneer strips reappear in the seat top, emphasising the economic use of wood offcuts from the legs in the construction of the seat. Now, as in 1933, Stool 60 is made entirely from one raw material, and without complicated joinery. Stool 60 Kontrasti brings these virtues of responsible timber usage and holistic design thinking into focus.
Artek was founded in Helsinki in 1935 by four young idealists: Alvar and Aino Aalto, Maire Gullichsen, and Nils-Gustav Hahl. Their goal was “to sell furniture and to promote a modern culture of living by exhibitions and other educational means.”
In keeping with the radical spirit of its founders, Artek today remains an innovative player in the world of modern design, developing new products at the intersection of design, architecture, and art. The Artek collection consists of furniture, lighting, and accessories designed by Finnish masters and leading international designers. It stands for clarity, functionality, and poetic simplicity.