The Kingdom of Stools

Dung Ngo


“Alice looked all round her at the flowers and the blades of grass... There was a large mushroom growing near her, about the same height as herself; and when she had looked under it, and on both sides of it, and behind it, it occurred to her that she might as well look and see what was on the top of it. 

She stretched herself up on tiptoe, and peeped over the edge of the mushroom, and her eyes immediately met those of a large caterpillar that was sitting on the top with its arms folded, quietly smoking a long hookah, and taking not the smallest notice of her or of anything else.”

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll, 1865

Away from the bright light, they can be found tucked in the underbrush of the sea of legs and moving blankets. Short and often unassuming, they tend to thrive in this thicket environment, somewhat dark and low to ground. Those that can be identified have fanciful names like Rooster, Butterfly, Pirkka, and Fjord, but many are considered 'wild' and still to be classified, having yet to be designated a proper genus. 

I am speaking, of course, not of mushrooms on a forest floor but the stools that have been gathered for this exhibition from Joel Chen's vast furniture warehouses. One hundred and eighteen, to be exact—an edited but still sprawling sampling of this most primordial of furniture type. 

Poul Kjaerholm

Furniture designer Poul Kjærholm was a significant figure in Danish modern design uniquely blending craftsmanship and industrial production. Trained as a cabinetmaker in Hjørring, Denmark in 1949, he later studied furniture design at the Danish School of Arts and Crafts in Copenhagen, graduating in 1952. In 1955, he was hired by the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts as a lecturer and also designed the, now iconic, school’s desks. In 1976 he was welcomed back as a professor.

Kjærholm’s timeless designs are functional and durable. He often worked in steel, leather and glass, placing importance on the relationship of the piece to its environment. Kjærholm received many awards throughout his career including two Grand Prix at the Milan Triennale, the Lunning Prize in 1958, the Eckersberg's Medal in 1960, and multiple ID awards. In 2006, Kjærholm was the subject of a major retrospective at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark. His work is included in the permanent collections of museums around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York where designs are featured throughout the galleries and restaurant. Poul Kjærholm died in 1980.

Auction Results Poul Kjaerholm