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A Brief But Fun Glimpse Into The History Of The Drafting Stool

tall_detroit_stoolAlthough the original drafting stool has been around in one form or another for well over 100 years you really don’t have to look very far to see modern versions. In fact here at Cafe Solutions we have several versions right here on our website. So why’s it so popular? Simply because it fits right in with the contemporary industrialised styling that seems to be flooding café’s, restaurants, and bistros up and down the country. As such they’re incredibly popular. That said the original drafting stool wasn’t ever designed to be an icon of the furniture world, instead its beginnings were born out of necessity.

Uhl’s Cycle Emporium (but not for much longer)

Just imagine the scene. It’s the turn of the century (well, 1903 to be precise) and that newfangled contraption the motor car was starting to turn the heads of the public. Henry Ford had just set up the Ford Motor Company and as a bicycle company owner this was seriously bad news. Factory owner Clement Uhl knew his days and his business were numbered, so in order to supplement his rapidly dwindling trade the company started to experiment with heavy duty, practical furniture for the workplace. Surprisingly, it started to take off, and unsurprisingly in 1905 as furniture sales overtook bicycle sales, the company changed their name to the Toledo Metal Company.

Ohio Drafting company

That same year (1905) the Ohio Drafting Company got in touch and requested a fully adjustable but rugged stool for their workers that could easily be positioned and repositioned. Uhl set to work and some time later he came up with the Toledo Adjustable Drafting Stool. With its simplistic angular design and ‘screw-up screw-down’ seating mechanism it became an immediate hit and before long it could be found in telephone exchanges, factories, offices and schools up and down the country.

Really not cool!

Right through the twenties, thirties, and during the war years the Toledo Drafting Stool was being mass-produced in their thousands for export and for use in the US. However by the 1950’s it fell out of favour as sleek and sophisticated designs that offered more comfort were preferred. Just as the large scale factories started to close, many a Toledo Drafting Stool was left gathering dust. In essence, it was no longer cool

The industrial revolution

For the next 50 years (give or take), no-one wanted the Toledo Stool for love nor money. That is until the onset of the industrial revolution – No, not that industrial revolution! I’m talking about the modern day version that’s taking over the design world! The industrial look is proving increasingly popular in café’s and restaurants all across the world and the original Toledo Drafting Stool fits perfectly into this ethos. As a result (supply and demand and all that), original Drafting Stools in mint condition now cost a small fortune.

All in all, it’s a happy ending for the humble drafting stool that was initially born out of necessity!

If you’re looking for a drafting stool but don’t fancy paying original drafting stool prices, then talk to Cafe Solutions. We have a wide range of commercial cafe furniture including replica drafting stools, all at great prices. Contact us on 07 3205 1616 to find out more.

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