Introducing The Handy Stool – The Story Behind the Design

At Leland, we believe enduring design starts with understanding the world around us and that’s exactly how the process for Handy Stool began.

Based on Understanding

For some time, Leland had been contemplating a small-scale seating product. Our informed assumption was that the workplace needed a simple solution—one that was dynamic, fun, and didn’t command a big footprint. As it turned out, industrial designer Steven Philips, who is based in the London office of Arup Group, was looking to develop a similar product for his office.

Philips’ approach began with asking and observing.

“The creative process started by talking to people, which included our facilities management teams at Arup as well as a range of other people. From there, I sketched out some ideas on paper, refined them, and then moved into 3D modeling. For Handy, I wanted to create a refined, sculptural shape, with a lightweight and dynamic feel using a single material for the structure. Above all, I wanted Handy to be a likable product—one that’s easy for people to use in a range of environments.”

Packed with Intelligence

Taking all insights into consideration, Philips arrived at the design you see today. Handy Stool looks friendly and approachable, but it’s also packed with science and engineering. Arup engineers carried out a dynamic structural analysis to determine how the shape would perform when people sit on and move within the seat.

Handy Stool’s built-in versatility makes it a fitting addition to a café, brainstorming space, private office, or lounge—basically anywhere. Even in hotels, shops, and homes, Handy Stool delivers everyday functionality, all because of a few insight-driven features. Philips points out another one of Handy’s benefits:

“You can also tuck your bag underneath Handy, keeping your possessions safe and your space tidy.”

Just like Handy is suited for many spaces, it’s perfectly suited for many users. According to Philips,

“Handy’s seat height is intended to fit most of the world’s population. We have intentionally chosen 100% recyclable polypropylene for Handy. Using this material in a precious way, creates a sculptural, functional product of value that is intended to be used and cherished for a long time.”

Finished with Personality

Leland’s portfolio all started with the Marquette chair, which gave designers countless options for finishes, combinations, and aesthetics. Handy carries on this rich tradition, offering 4 polypropylene shell colors, endless textile options for the upholstered pad, 3 wood species options for the wood seat pad—white oak, walnut and maple, available in Leland’s 33 signature wood finishes.

Proven in the Real World

Phillips and his Arup team are very critical about design and how it works. One of Handy’s first tests was how it would perform in a setting like theirs—and it passed with flying colors. As Philips claims,

“It has worked well, and we now use Handy in our Arup London, Sydney, Brisbane and Singapore offices.”

About Handy Stool

Handy is an essential design, brilliantly executed—a stool so refreshingly and stunningly useful, it could only be called Handy. Featuring a sturdy shape and signature opening for easy storage and movement, Handy fits right into buzzing offices, college classrooms, and more. You can stack up multiple Handy Stools to save space, and they’ll still retain their pleasing aesthetic. Packed with color and material customization options, Handy encourages fresh and impromptu connection and brings a lively spirit to any collaborative space.

 

Check out The Handy Stool here

Author: Adam Barr