The Hula Stool

In 1999 Edward & Jay were approached by friends, Simon Alderson and Tony Cunningham, owners of the design shop Twentytwentyone in London, to participate in a project called Childsplay. The brief invited several designers to produce a child’s piece of furniture from a single sheet of 15mm plywood. The work would be exhibited, and auctioned in support of the Children’s Hope Foundation.

  • Year / 1999
  • Manufacturer / Cappellini

The prototype Hula stool was made by Chris McCourt at his Isokon Plus workshop in Chiswick. There was a collective decision that it should be CNC routed (cut on a computer-controlled milling machine), giving the accuracy needed to register the individual pieces with one-another. All of the components were laid out on the plywood sheet, spaced as economically as possible. When the sheet had been routed, it resembled a plastic sheet from an Airfix kit, with all the complex pieces ready to be snapped out and fixed together.

When assembled, the small Hula stool felt very different from its original two-dimensional beginning. The shape naturally allowed the piece to be placed both in a fixed seating position, or inverted to form a rocking stool. In common with the Loop Table, the Hula Stool has an open volume at its centre, so even at this scale the object had a lightness, and the array of small undulating parts gave the piece a pleasing complexity. The Hula stool was exhibited at the Design Museum in London and was later auctioned for charity.

Giulio Cappellini asked if he could try an adult sized prototype and so the manufacturing moved from London to the woodworkers of Brianza, north of Milan, where the stool was produced in teak.

Reviewing the teak prototype with Giulio, Barber & Osgerby were profoundly struck by how these alterations had changed the piece. In particular, how the incredible craftsmanship needed to make such delicate jointing details had elevated a simple plywood idea in to an object that was more visually engaging and felt good to use.