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. 

Charlotte Perriand

At the age of twenty-four Charlotte Perriand approached Le Corbusier and asked to join the designer’s famed studio. While studying at Paris’s École de l’Union Centrale des Arts Décoratifs, Perriand read two of Le Corbusier’s most notable works, Ver une architecture and L’Art decorative d’aujourd’hui prompting her to distance herself from the Art Deco aesthetic and seek out a style more relevant to the machine-age. Le Corbusier famously turned her away, stating "we don’t embroider cushions here." Months later, after seeing her Bar sous le toi the Salon D’Automne exhibition in Paris, he apologized and hired her on. Perriand worked for him for ten years, collaborating with Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret on numerous projects, most notably a set of tubular steel chairs that would become one of her most well-known designs. In the 1930s, concerned with social issues, Perriand worked to create functional and affordable designs. Moving away from the machine-age aesthetic of glass and metal, Perriand began experimenting with natural materials. She traveled to Japan as an official advisor on industrial design to the Ministry for Trade and Industry and became enamored with the simplistic beauty of Japanese design. Perriand studied local woodworking and immersed herself in the functional yet refined forms. Perriand revitalized her career upon returning to Europe in 1947, creating harmonious simplicity in her designs – what she called l’art d’habiter. She continued her collaboration with Le Corbusier on the Unité d’Habitation in Marseilles and worked with Fernand Leger and Jean Prouvé on various commissions. In 1985, her long career was celebrated with a retrospective at the Musée des Arts-Décoratifs in Paris and she remains one of the most influential designers of the 20th Century.

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Auction Results Charlotte Perriand