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Backen­zahn Stool

c. 1996

by Philipp Mainzer
for e15

Backen­zahn means molar” in German and is an apt moniker for perhaps one of Philipp Mainzer’s best-known pieces for e15. The enig­matic Backen­zahn stool can also func­tion as a side/​occasional table and features a struc­ture of four post-like” legs that have been joined together to create the atyp­i­cal volume. Each of the legs has been artic­u­lated as a sepa­rate element – the narrow gap between posts becomes a cruci­form element at the top when viewed aeri­ally. This gap also creates a wonder­ful shadow along the sides of the Backen­zahn stool not only high­light­ing the three-dimen­sional nature of the respec­tive elements but creat­ing an engag­ing depth within the overall composition.

The wood used in creat­ing Backen­zahn is north­ern Euro­pean oiled oak or walnut through which Mainzer cele­brates the natural irreg­u­lar­i­ties of the wood – stri­a­tions, grain, and splits. As a result, every Backen­zahn stool created is slightly differ­ent from the other – the only homog­e­niz­ing features are its uniform size and the type of wood from which it has been created. The base of each of the post elements has been cut to create a styl­ized form that mimics the roots of a tooth. The tops of each are slightly concave – when joined they form a shallow depres­sion to engen­der ergonom­ics as a seat. While this concave top can also be used as a surface, e15 also offers the Backen­zahn stool with a flat top better suited to its use as a side/​occasional table.

Backen­zahn has an amazing sculp­tural pres­ence; given its narrow foot­print, it becomes a perfect solu­tion as an impromptu stool or table in any interior.


Philipp Mainzer


Born in Germany, Philipp Mainzer studied product design at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, and architecture at the Architectural Association both in London. In 1995 he co-founded the modern furniture brand e15. Having established the progressive, enduring philosophy and unique branding of e15, he has received international awards for many of his designs, which are identifying icons for e15 and part of several permanent exhibitions in museums. Parallel to the creation of e15, Mainzer practiced architecture in New York and continues to do so since his return to Germany in 2001. He is a member of the executive committee of German Design Council and regularly gives lectures on architecture, design, and branding.

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