Toledo Style Stool
The Toledo Stool is the original draughtsman’s stool. It was manufactured in Toledo, Ohio during the American Machine Age in the early 20th century, and so the stool later adopted the city’s name.
Advertised as a chair for the office, to be used by the likes of bookkeepers and typewriters, the stool was originally created for draughtsmen. A draughting company had approached a furniture manufacturer and requested a new design of seating that would be functional and adjustable for their workers.
Draughtsmen create detailed technical drawings and plans for architects or engineers. In the past, they sat at large wooden drawing boards or desks using tools such as pencils, rulers, compasses and protractors to create plans by hand. So to make a more efficient and comfortable work flow, an adaptable and durable stool was needed, to allow them to reach the entire drawing board with ease and to accommodate multiple users.
The above-mentioned furniture manufacturer was the Toledo Metal Furniture Company, founded in 1898 in Toledo, Ohio by brothers Philip and Clement Uhl. Situated next to the Maumee River and Lake Erie, the city’s main transport links were by boat. Then in the late 19th century extensive railroads were developed, providing better links and turning the city into a hub for railroad companies and the manufacturing industry.
Hence the furniture company began as Uhl’s Cycle Emporium, where the brothers repaired and manufactured bicycles. However, with the development of automobiles in the early 20th century the market for bicycles saw a heavy decline. So, the brothers decided to branch out and began making chairs and stools for ice cream parlours, which expanded into furniture for schools, offices, and factories. Thus, the company was renamed Uhl Steel Art and in 1904 they incorporated as Toledo Metal Furniture.
Today, the company is a division of Banner Metal Inc., they’re still producing office furniture but much more modern variations. Their original draughtsman’s stool remains their most successful and well-known design, and today we know it as the Toledo Draughtsman’s Stool.