Donatella Bianchi. Bar Stools. November 29th, 2017.
Bar Stools - An old tradition: Bar stools are arguably as old as bars themselves. When someone thought of putting up a relatively tall, long table that would serve as a centerpiece for a public house, it would not have taken long to think up appropriate seating. The bar is often at elbow height of a standing man of average height, for the purposes of making things easier for the bartender who serves while standing, and also to draw attention in a room. Its height meant that conventional chairs would leave patrons at chest or chin-height in relation to the bar, which is no way to enjoy some food or drink. When bar counters served as focal points for food and drink as they did in the old days, one really needed one`s hands at the right height. The obvious solution was to go to the bar counter, order food or drink, then finish it off while standing up and leave afterwards. This was fine for the utilitarian purpose of public houses, but soon people started wanting to hang out for longer. In any case, taverns and pubs profited from having customers hang around for more than just a drink or two. Bar stools were invented to provide comfort and in turn generate revenue for the owners. The height meant that the countertop was in easy reach, and the narrowness meant one could seat a large number of people at the long counter. Since then, going to the pub to meet the locals and congregating at the bar for some drinking have become traditional pastimes. It would probably be unthinkable to imagine a world without the age-old practice of chilling out with the guys or gals for a drink after work while resting one`s feet.
Bar Stools - The continuous evolution: In the old days bar stools were strictly utilitarian, just wooden pieces nailed together to form sturdy seats. There was not much call for aesthetic modifications, and life back then was generally plain-looking by today`s standards. If you have seen movies depicting the medieval or Middle Ages, then you will be familiar with the rough-hewn appearance of their furniture. They were often unpadded as well, so sitting for long periods of time was not an attractive prospect. The Renaissance saw a sudden uprising in the call for beauty, and everything became covered with carvings and etchings. These bar stools were no exception, and their long legs in particular were made more aesthetically ornate. Padding as part of the seat and not as a separate cushion was also introduced. Not surprisingly, not everyone could afford these fancy seats, so the simple designs were still common in the seedier bars and public houses. This disparity is important to consider, since it has led to the richness of choice that we have today. In the previous century, every decade saw changes in popular fashion and aesthetics, so public houses changed their appearance regularly. Those periods saw the use of chrome, leatherette, rotating seats, and polyurethane foam. These stools became fixtures around counters, literally speaking. Being bolted to the floor, their fixed nature prevented them from being used in the inevitable bar brawl. Alcohol seems to often lead to violence of some sort, and many a bar has seen destruction at the hands of inebriated patrons. At least, the stools would be spared too much damage.
Bar Stools - The new generation: Today, with the recognition of many interior design styles and themes, bar stools have been manufactured to complement the choices for public rooms. Some go for the old-school gentleman`s club feel, while others like the sleek and chic chrome and leather styling. There are some that appropriate Oriental design elements and incorporate bamboo in motif or material form, while some turn to wood and etching in the tradition of Old Europe. There are even some that use molded plastic and brushed steel for that futuristic, streamlined ambiance. And that`s not even to mention the various accouterments used in various theme bars all over the world. The seat offers a tempting canvas for stylized lettering or graphics including the ever popular Harley Davidson and Jack Daniels for instance, while chair sides would prove good grounds for scrolling artwork. Of course, for the older establishments that wish to retain an Old World charm, wicker stools are light, easily replaceable, and totally in character. Modern padded seats have to regularly have their cushions replaced, what with the constant traffic of derrieres both tight and not so. Of course, just because they are "bar" stools does not mean they are only found in bars and home bars have become increasingly popular. Man caves also tend to have their fair share of bar stools for a movie and drinks night in or just a good old knees up style party. Other house may also have a few of these seats around a kitchen counter or similar feature.
Some western style counter stools have a round "saddle" instead of rectangular. They are still termed western counter stools for their other qualities, such as wood as the material for both their legs and the seat. They will typically have four legs, and the neighboring legs will be connected with cross bars at different heights on neighboring sides, and same heights on opposite sides, for stability and sturdiness of construction.
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