Style

F*ck Stools

Can You Think of a More Regressive Piece of Furniture?

By Sam Eichner ·
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Photo: Spaces Images/Getty Images

Can you think of a more useless piece of shit furniture than the stool?

The stool is the electoral college of home design: sure it looks cool, but is it really doing its job? The stool is like blue balls for sitting down. The stool is the chair equivalent of a wheel some fucking idiot looked at and thought, “You know what would work better than a circle? A triangle.” The stool is the worst invention of all time because it takes a discovery—any decently-sized rock—and attempts to pass it off as something novel. Fuck stools.

Now before you go and suggest that me being anti-stool means I’m anti-bar, let me make one thing clear: I love bars. I love sitting at bars. I love drinking beverages that people behind bars make me. I love talking to girls at bars and getting rejected by them (I don’t love this). But just because you need a higher chair to reach the bar, doesn’t mean that that chair has to be a stool. It could be—gasp—a chair.

Seriously, I dare you to recall a time when a stool served a greater purpose than a chair. I dare you to recount an experience where you walked into a room and saw a stool and thought to yourself, “Yes, they have stools here.” I dare you to defend the stool's raison d’etre.

See? You can’t. Unless you’re performing in a one-man show in a shitty black-box theater or doing stand-up and need a place to rest your mug of water, there is no reason why a stool should ever replace a chair. There’s no back support on a stool. You’re almost obligated to hunch. Sure, the stool is okay for a half-stand, half-sit situation—an “I might bounce soon” lean—but is that really what we want from something designed for us to sit on? I think not.

Unfortunately, I fear the plague of stools is only spreading. A byproduct of the modern industrial aesthetic, of raw wood and communal picnic tables and Edison bulbs, spreading like wildfire from Airbnbs to hip cafés and bars to co-working and co-living spaces—a “strange geography created by technology” writer Kyle Chayka calls "AirSpace"—is profusion of stools. They have the spartan, “just came out of a woodshop” look about them chairs do not. As someone who spent the better part of the last year traveling the world and working remotely for this very website—mostly in gentrified places with cold brew and fast Wi-Fi—I’ve witnessed this scourge firsthand, from the nouveau hipster cafés in Belgrade to the coffee shops in Condesa, a decidedly Brooklyn-esque pocket of Mexico City. Back in Chicago, I’ve learned to avoid otherwise delightful cafés—*cough* Heritage *cough*—that fail to provide adequate seating. How am I supposed to work when I’m shifting non-stop on a stool?

Ironically, stools are most prevalent in the sites we need chairs most: bars and cafés. These are places designed to facilitate communication and foster intimacy; to provide a nice place for work and play. How are we supposed to do anything—date, write, read, study, drink to excess—to the best of our abilities when we aren’t comfortable in our seats? To sacrifice these fundamental ideals, as a restaurant or bar or café, is to undermine the sincerity with which you’ve undertaken the endeavor in the first place: are you more concerned with having your place look like something out of Kinfolk or in providing a satisfactory experience for your customers? This is an existential question.

Look, I understand it’s 2017. And that we have a lot of problems bigger than stools. But I’m here to inform you that the hyper-capitalist nature of the stool is reflected in those same problems. Given their inherent demands on the human body—a dare-I-say ageist pose—the stool is a truly anti-democratic object. The stool doesn’t believe in everyone’s equal right to sit in it without discomfort; nor does the stool believe that it’s its job to provide a back to support your spine. The stool may save space—but it only saves space for more shitty stools. Make no mistake: the stool wants to gut your entitlement programs, because fuck if the stool is going to deal with the scoliosis of the masses.

The stool is the GOP; the stool is Trump. Fuck stools.

Sam Eichner likes literature, reality television and his twin cats equally. He has consistently been told he needs a shave since he started growing facial hair.

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