Rock-inspired Ottoman stools were also designed to be stacked and played with

The origin of the Balanco stools is a rather interesting one. It was designed as a response to the pandemic, when the entire world was forced to stay at home. Putting home decor at the forefront while also giving kids (and adults) something to play and interact with, the Balanco set of stools takes its inspiration from rocks and boulders, giving you the ability to stack them in different forms and formats, creating art in the process. I call it putting ‘fun’ in ‘funiture’!

The idea for the Balanco stools came from the Japanese practice of stacking pebbles to create towers. While the pebbles mostly consist of rounded forms, designers Lisa Lai and Joel Wong decided that chiseled rock-like shapes would create more visual dynamism while offering a variety of flat surfaces that are ideal for stacking and layering. “As it requires significant patience and calmness to balance the blocks, it serves as one of the practical yet fun solutions for friends and families to enjoy with one another”, say Lisa and Joel. “When it is not used as objects for play, it doubles as stools and tables for adults and children.”

Designers: Lisa Lai and Joel Wong

Although boulder-like, the Balanco poufs are deceptively light, thanks to the foam inside them. The foam blocks are clad with sheets of felt that are stitched together with exposed edges that create the black lines on the boulders, giving them their chiseled, sharp, edgy appearance. This also allows the individual surfaces to remain relatively flat, so they stack on each other rather beautifully.

When not being used as toy blocks to create odd rocky totems, the individual Balanco stools can be used as seats, poufs, or footrests. Their uneven shape means you can orient them in a multitude of ways and height-adjust them accordingly. Although I don’t entirely endorse this, they’ll probably make for rather realistic-looking pillow fights!

The Balanco Stools are a winner of the A’ Design Award for the year 2022.