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The Look for Less: Philippe Starck's Bonze stool vs. the Tiki stool by Three Hands

September 14, 2010 |  6:05 am

In 2004, some time before designers and catalog companies started dragging ceramic Chinese garden stools indoors as side tables, Philippe Starck upped the profile of the drum-shaped multipurpose piece. Starck's stylized face stool, Bonze, takes its name from a French-derived term for a Buddhist monk and bears a strong resemblance to the modernist sculpture of Constantin Brancusi and the head of the Academy Awards statuette. If you've had a few Mai Tais, it could even pass as a Tiki head.

Starck has used the metallic-glazed Bonze as a whimsical, surrealistic element in design commissions throughout Europe and Asia, and the stool can be found in the decor at the SLS Hotel in Los Angeles. Due to the finishes, it is intended for interiors. Inevitably, the Bonze has inspired a lower cost imitation. 

One of these photos is of the Starck original, which sells for $950 and up depending on the finish. The other is the $250 Tiki stool by Three Hands, a home decor and accessories firm based in Sylmar. 

Find out which is which after the jump.

Bonze The Tiki stool by Three Hands, near right, is made from ceramic with a high-fire glossy glaze and comes in silver and gold for $250. It weighs around 16 pounds and measures approximately 14 inches in diameter and stands 19.5 inches tall. It is available through Interior Illusions and is on display in its West Hollywood store. 

By contrast, the original Starck Bonze, far right, is made from more costly porcelain and is a heftier 22 pounds. It stands 18 inches tall with a thinner, more elongated face and more elegant features. (The Tiki seems to have cheek and chin implants). The finishes are also more refined: The bronze, $950 shown here, and black, have a gunmetal sheen and there are also gold, platinum and brilliant red options at higher prices. It is sold through the online modern retailer Unica Home. 

-- David A. Keeps

Photo credits: Three Hands, left, and Unica Home