My Favourite Wooden Object

Ethiopian Stool c. 1950s

Edward Barber

I have been collecting utilitarian handmade objects for much of my life. The more rudimentary an object is, the more it appeals to me. I have a particular interest in bowls, stone hand tools and carved wooden artefacts.

This Ethiopian stool is one of my favourite pieces. The sculptural saddle-like seat has a clean, asymmetric geometry that has been worked with great precision into complex, compound curves. After years of use, the surface of the dense hardwood is well-worn and soft to the touch. In contrast, the feet have been cut roughly in both shape and finish, probably with an adze, powerfully illustrating the hierarchy of those parts of the stool that make contact with the body and those that touch the ground.


Edward Barber, Barber Osgerby