Photographs courtesy of Rachel Keeley
Words by Rachel Keeley
The Artek Stool 60
If I had a dog, which I don’t, but let’s say for the sake of argument I did, and it turned out to be the sort of dog that chewed on the designer classics, the dog would have to go. End of. No discussion. No regrets. Heartless? Possibly… but I’m a furniture lover first and foremost. Luckily for me there’s at least one dog owner out there who, on discovering their pooch enjoyed the flavour of vintage Artek, decided to keep the dog and re-home their Stool 60. Enter stage right. Now the proud owner of a timeless piece of Finnish design, man’s best friend had been the least of my new acquisition’s worries. The stool, or rather the seat, had clearly seen better days; days which didn’t involve it being used as an ashtray, or workbench. But aside from the teeth-marks, burn marks, a few saw marks and the odd splat of paint, the stool is, well, a thing of beauty.
Restoring the Artek Stool 60
Faced with a restoration project, which tested my skill set, it wasn’t too long before I found myself thinking the unthinkable … could I, or should I, paint it? I’m no purist, but I take the business of custodianship seriously, and I wanted to do right by this stool. In an attempt to justify what would ordinarily be the unjustifiable, I was interested to discover an initiative launched by Artek in 2011 called Artek 2nd Cycle. Essentially a concept store devoted to showcasing the company’s own reclaimed vintage pieces, it aims to give ‘reclaimed classics a new lease of life; not to recycle products, but to extend their lifecycle’. I liked this philosophy, and what’s more it mirrored the ambitions I had for my sorry-looking stool. But did this give me the express permission I was desperately seeking to paint my previously unpainted classic?
The Artek Stool 60: 80th anniversary
Last year the Artek Stool 60 celebrated it’s 80th anniversary, and to mark the occasion Artek introduced a limited series of special edition stools. One of which – the Anniversary Edition – features the stools with coloured seats. The inspiration for the colour palette was taken directly from Aalto’s Paimio Sanatorium: the yellow of the floors, the green of the walls, the turquoise of the handrails and the orange, white and black of the furniture.
Photograph courtesy of Artek
‘Reinventing’ the Artek Stool 60
Things were looking up. I mean, if a paint job is good enough for Artek, then it’s good enough for me. Right? I still felt hesitant, but I needn’t have worried … apparently this type of re-invention, for want of a better word, is quite the done thing in Finland. Juhani Lemmetti, the founder of Artek 2nd Cycle, said in an interview with the FT, “Finns often repaint several times over that most popular of Artek item – the Artek Stool 60 – in the latest trendy hues, thereby extending its life cycle”. And that’s all I want to do with my stool – give it a chance to be cherished all over again. So it’s a done deal. Now, which colour?