Pantone Stool

In 2004 Edward Barber & Jay Osgerby received a call from Kara Tobin from the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York, asking if they would be interested in designing the furniture for the central meeting space in the exhibition. The sponsor for this area was the colour reference company, Pantone. Having known that colour would therefore be an important ingredient in their proposal, whilst looking through their colour books, Barber & Osgerby wondered how they could use colour in an interesting way, and jumped to a rather obvious conclusion. Why not take the iconic Pantone colour chip and literally turn it into a piece of furniture?

  • Year / 2005
  • Manufacturer / Isokon Plus / ICFF

There were some plywood Flight stools in the studio designed many years before. Barber & Osgerby realised that their flat panel sides were, conveniently, of similar proportions to the colour chips. Painting the sides was really effective. They chose a range of six colours in eight different shades and made two of each, totalling 96 stools. The stools were made and spray-painted at Isokon Plus and the text was screen printed onto the white panel afterwards in dark grey. 

The stools were shipped to the US and arranged at the fair in runs against long black tables. Each table had a specific colour-run of stools that faded from dark to light along its length. At the start of the week they looked exactly like a three-dimensional colour chart, but as the days went by, the stools migrated to other tables as people moved them around. The stools were a great success and it was decided to ship them back to London and sell them at an exhibition at the appropriately named Blue Gallery in Clerkenwell. The stools were arranged on the walls, this time breaking up and mixing the colour runs as learnt from New York. The show was titled ‘Colour by Numbers’ and the stools sold out in two days. This was Edward and Jay’s first venture into colour composition and sowed the seed for further experimentation.