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The Cult Counter Stool Sneaking Into Every Expert Kitchen Lately

Words by Kate McGregor

You’ve probably seen them without even noticing.

Furniture Marolles’ three-legged chairs and counter stools have been making their way in Expert projects, prominent hotels, and buzzy restaurants since the brand’s launch in 2017. The father-daughter partnership—whose catalog features only a few products—has an interesting backstory: it’s dedicated to reviving the timeless design of the iconic Touret chairs.

After finding one such chair at San Francisco’s Fog Fair in 2015, a rare feat seeing as fewer than 100 models were made in the 1950s, Ed Clay approached the Touret family with a plan to honor its legacy—a partnership was struck with the Artisans of Marolles (a co-op founded by the late French sculptor Jean Touret himself).

For this project, Ed, who’s been designing and making custom furniture in California wine country for over 40 years, partnered with his daughter Ariel—who has worked for prominent brands like Apparatus and BDDW for a decade.

The father-daughter duo set out to expand the chair’s possibilities (by making counter height options), and give the white oak silhouette the recognition it deserves. “We are not about what is new and what's next,” Ariel says. “Instead we prefer to focus on refinement, commitment, and craftsmanship. Doing one thing very well is much better than doing many things good enough.”

a kitchen with a counter, chairs, and a potted plant

Photography by Sen Creative; Design by Michael Hilal featuring Marolles Counter Stools

The Backstory

The Artisans of Marolles was a small cooperative founded by Jean Touret in 1950. Known primarily as an artist and sculptor, he designed furniture and decorative objects for his artisan friends to make. We are privileged to have the support of the Touret family in our efforts to bring this chair the recognition it deserves. Now being handmade by artisans in California and Maine in American White Oak, you will notice the same fine details reminiscent of the first Marolles stools—the carved seat, shaped legs, steel staples, and perfect proportions. Convenient for any setting, the collection has been expanded to function in modern times with four-leg bar and counter stool versions.

The Valued Philosophy

Ed’s early influences include Wharton Esherick, Wendell Castle, and James Krenov. We want to highlight the value of handmade designs that last a lifetime. To say that our collection is “timeless” is to give it high praise. By that we literally mean that the period of origin is not discernible by mere observation, thus creating a piece that is truly timeless.

a large kitchen with a center island and wooden chairs

Photography by Ori Harpaz; Design by David Lucido featuring Marolles Counter Stools

The Inspiration

In the Spring of 2022, Ed was able to visit Paris and meet Sebastian Touret along with collectors and gallery owners that showcase original Artisans of Marolles work. Recently, a book was published on the history of the Artisans of Marolles and Jean Touret’s work. This trip served as a huge inspiration, and reaffirmation of our dedication to this iconic chair.

The Biggest “Pinch Me” Moment

When a photo of Philippe Starck standing next to one of our Counter Stools was texted to us by a designer on his team. He loves the collection and has used it in many projects. To see him lauding one of our pieces was a real highlight! He is such a legend—and not only in the global design community.

a wooden stool with a seat made out of wood
Furniture MarollesMarolles Counter StoolSHOP NOW

a kitchen with a center island and three stools

Photography courtesy of Hommeboys Interiors featuring Marolles Counter Stools

The Material Marolles Always Returns To

We will always love natural materials and the variations of wood that nature inspires. You may expect to see naturally occurring knots, checks, and fine cracks in our chairs. We view these elements not as flaws, but as reminders of the tree that provided the wood for your Marolles Chair.

The Hero Product

The Three-Leg Marolles Chair is the most authentic version of the Touret and Artisans of Marolles legacy. For us it is the hero! It feels familiar, yet classic and finds a home in residential, hotel, and restaurant spaces. These chairs are meant to be practical, useful and enduring. It’s crafted using centuries-old methods that leave evidence of the maker's hand. Yet, the proportions and refinement of line and form identify a modern-era designer. The chair will always be seen as both current and historic.

a wooden chair sitting on top of a white background
Furniture MarollesMarolles ChairSHOP NOW

Why Partner with the Expert

An online resource that is curated and thoughtful doesn’t seem to exist for small brands like us. We love the work of Jake Arnold and are very impressed with the curated selection he put together for Showroom.

a vase of flowers sitting on top of a counter

Photography by Michael Clifford; Design by Jake Arnold featuring Marolles Counter Stools

Shop Furniture Marolles now on The Expert.