Last year was a significant birthday, one of those round number milestones. As a treat, I was taken to stay in a restored windmill in the Kent countryside.
One of my favourite furniture features in the beautifully designed interior was a small stool, which sat in the bathroom.
This stool was simple and basic in its construction. I imagine it was originally a milking stool, made to serve a function.
It had now become exceedingly worn; the seat – which was likely flat when it was made – was now an elegant, weathered bow of oak. Years of use and age had created a seat that cupped your bottom when you sat on it.
The mark of time on this stool stuck with me, and I set about making my own reinterpretation. It would not be a carbon copy, attempting to fake the aged beauty of wood seems disingenuous. Instead, I wanted my design to capture the moment of pleasure when seated comfortably
Using olive ash, with its dramatic dark brown stripes, my design introduced some design features not in the original.
But the core of the design, that wondrous curved seat, is very much there and, as I hoped, cups the sitter’s derrière comfortably.
This means that wherever it is placed, it becomes a welcome spot to rest a moment. By the front door when putting on shoes; warming yourself in front of a crackling fire; even by the roadside – as I discovered when walking back from a meeting with an interior designer. I was stopped by two enthusiastic women, who wanted to know where I got my stool. I explained that I had made it and offered them a seat, to watch the world go by. It was great to see a flicker of the joy, I had experienced sitting in the windmill, move across the face of an admirer on a busy street.
I wonder what the maker of the original stool would think seeing it now. I’m sure they’d be happy to know it survived and interested how the seat had cupped considerably. That is part of the beauty (and challenge) of working with wood; it is an organic material – which wants to tell its own story.
I can only hope that my smock stool is around in 100 years time and gives the same joy and inspiration for a maker of the future.