12 NOVEMBER 2020 - 5 APRIL 2021


Stool Dolly, the 'socially distant design'

If ever a year showed us how quickly we can adapt to new circumstances, it’s 2020.


In the months since COVID-19 swept across the world, our species has incorporated a staggering number of new ideas, terms, and practices into our everyday lives with remarkable speed. Among the most commonly used is a concept previously known only to public health experts: ‘physical distancing’.


Designed by Holly Board and Peter Grove of BoardGrove Architects as a special commission for MPavilion 2020, Stool Dolly is a chair that truly responds to its time. Reminiscent of children’s paper dolls—where folded paper is cut into a simple human form, before opening up into a train of people connected by their outstretched arms—each Stool Dolly chair can be positioned at ‘arm’s length’ (1.5 metres), or interlocked. When used at MPavilion events, the resulting configuration allows its users to be safely apart, together.


Proudly supported by the Naomi Milgrom Foundation, the stool is an extension of the Fringe Furniture for Gender Equality Initiative, which aims to promote gender equality in the design sector. Established as an experimental playground, Fringe Furniture is a standout exhibition of emerging and market-ready design, which provides a continuing platform for artists and designers to showcase their work. Since 2018, funding from the Naomi Milgrom Foundation has enabled a subsidy in Fringe Furniture registration fees for female and non-binary designers equal to the gender pay gap, as well as a range of professional development opportunities.


The Stool Dolly joins the ongoing furniture series commissioned by the Naomi Milgrom Foundation each year for MPavilion. Previous furniture pieces include designs by Chris Connell of Chris Connell Design (2019), Carme Pinós of Estudio Carme Pinós (2018), OMA (2017), local artisans in India in collaboration with Studio Mumbai (2016), and Sean Godsell of Sean Godsell Architects (2014). Other highly regarded submissions for the 2020 collaboration with Fringe Furniture included designs by Apple Huang, Caroline Scales, Keiran Meegan and Rickie-Lee Robbie of Idle Hands, Jordan Fleming, Kathleen Prentice, and Phoebe Richardson.


Naomi Milgrom AC, founder of the Naomi Milgrom Foundation, emphasised that “MPavilion is delighted to work with such an impressive, emerging furniture design couple, Holly Board and Peter Grove. Chosen from a remarkable collection of applications from young creatives, the Stool Dolly design blends form with a heightened sensitivity to the practical demands of this unique time in history. For MPavilion and the Naomi Milgrom Foundation, supporting local design and manufacturing now is more important than ever before.” Simon Abrahams, creative director and CEO of Melbourne Fringe, added that “Melbourne Fringe is so proud of Holly Board and Peter Grove’s innovative design, and we’re thrilled to see our Gender Equality Initiative in real action. When we are allowed to gather again, there’s nowhere I’d rather be doing it than at MPavilion, sitting on a new commissioned piece from an exciting Melbourne Fringe designer.”

November 12, 2020
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