Functional futurism

Studio Stirling

Inspired by nature, the striking metal furniture made by Studio Stirling combines comfort, functionality, beauty and emotion

At first glance, the exceptional furniture made by Studio Stirling has a vaguely space-age connotation. Made from mild or stainless steel, there are hanging chairs, daybeds and swings that look like something from the set of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, and bird boxes resembling Modernist or Bauhaus architecture. But look again and you’ll see that all of these unique, handmade creations have their roots in the natural world.

“I just absorb ideas from nature all the time,” says designer Joanina Pastoll. “For instance, one of my daybeds is inspired by the pattern on an insect’s wings; one hanging chair is inspired by the delicate veins of a leaf; another by the stark silhouette of branches against the sky.”

What is important to Joanina and her dedicated team is the combination of aesthetics, comfort and emotion. “I want to create something that’s functional, but also beautiful,” she says. “It works as an extremely comfortable, ergonomically designed chair, but I want to create an emotional response too. The physical experience of the chair, how it changes the way you feel when sitting in it; I want to create a sense of well-being. These are all handmade items, so each piece is individual and unique in the pattern detailing, due to the variance of craftsmanship.”

Based in Johannesburg, South Africa, Joanina is a multi-award-winning graphic designer, having sat on the judging panels of august entities such as the Cannes Advertising Festival and the London International Awards. When she began renovating a studio space in her garden a few years ago, she was struck by the absence of high-quality hanging furniture that combined form, function and that elusive emotional connection. It led her to launch Studio Stirling in 2014 with her late husband David, a photographer.

In a world of homogenized mass-production, these handmade products often require less energy than mass-produced items and will inevitably last longer. This dedication to handcrafting strong, durable products has another positive effect: it cuts back on waste, bringing Studio Stirling’s commitment to nature full circle.

“It comes down to the discernment of the individual,” says Joanina. “You will always have someone who would prefer to have two very beautiful, well-crafted pairs of shoes than ten ordinary pairs. The two-pair person is the one who will choose Studio Stirling every time.”