A Hidden Gem: Alvar Aalto's Stolar Chair

This week I moved into the Courtauld library. Not literally, although the number of hours I’ve spent tucked away in its nooks and crannies totalled up to considerably more than the time spent at home. If it weren’t for looming essay deadlines, however, I wouldn’t have had the chance to absorb and appreciate our star chair this week: Alvar Alto’s Stolar.

Stolar, Alvar Aalto, 1935 Artek

I always notice this chair when entering or exiting the library, making sure to express my dislike of it either in my head or out loud to anyone accompanying me. At first glance, it doesn’t appeal to me at all: the kitsch zebra print cover and oddly shaped wooden frame are reminiscent of ’70s interiors, usually not something I’d protest if it weren’t for the beaten state of one in the Courtauld library, as though it has been used as a stool one too many times. I learnt to ignore it completely, despite walking past the wretched thing almost every day – but my mind was changed permanently after focusing on Alvar Aalto in an essay for my beloved Modern Interior Constellations course with Robin Schuldenfrei.