Stella: A Time-Tested Seating Range for Contemporary Commercial Environments

Rhubarb Seating’s Stella is one of their original ranges.  In fact, it is a range inherited from the legacy business that preceded it, Tract Limited.  When the company started out, the frames were all made by a third party from off-cuts and it was a miracle if any two were the same dimension, which made life interesting for the upholsterers.  However, the design was so comfortable that it was retained as part of the initial portfolio and the directors quickly brought the construction of the frames in-house.

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During the early years of the business, the company had only a small range of relatively simple soft seating products and Stella featured large as popular choice for the type of environments that Rhubarb was supplying at that early point in its history.  As the company’s markets shifted and matured, Stella was, for many years, overtaken by different styles and rather languished in the doldrums, to the extent that the directors even considered removing it from the portfolio entirely.  For some reason, however, the past few years have seen it return to favour and today it is one of the company’s best-selling ranges for the contract market.

Covid was in part the driver of this renaissance with the requirement for modular seating which could easily be distanced to create the necessary spaces between people.  Aside from that, though, the look and style of Stella clearly has resonance, as does its comfort, which is notable thanks to a number of features:  webbing across both the seat and back frames, high quality foams, and a design that provides good lumbar support against a seat that is slightly tilted back.

One of the aspects of Stella which the company believes to be partly responsible for its new-found popularity is its weight and manoeuvrability.  The units are relatively light and Rhubarb also offers the option of putting castors on the front which makes them very easy to move around but doesn’t affect their stability as the rear feet hold the unit firmly in place.  Cleaners love this feature and it was one of the advantages which has made Stella the preferred choice for several recent hospital projects, where health and safety requirements make ease of cleaning a priority.

The Stella range has a broad selection of units, straight, curved and corner, which means it is entirely flexible and can be configured to fit any space.  Rhubarb are also always at pains to remind their customers that the dimensions of all their standard ranges can be amended to meet specific space and project requirements.  In the past year, two new units have been added to the range in response to such demands.

The Zeta range is another of Rhubarb’s modular ranges developed for the contract market.  Its style is different, with a more angular look, and it offers an even greater selection of unit options, again with the possibility of bespoke dimensions where this is relevant.  That level of flexibility appears to be something that is welcomed in the contract market where it is probably rather less common to find a manufacturer able and willing to provide a degree of bespoke service at contract pricing. 

Neither Stella nor Zeta are probably pieces anyone would expect to see in a smart office building, a posh restaurant or bar, or an upmarket public area albeit that when upholstered in the higher quality fabrics or leather both ranges look wonderful.  They are, however, a perfect choice for settings such as hospitals, school staff rooms and breakout areas, medical waiting room, libraries, student accommodation and many others.  Their popularity shows no signs of diminishing.

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About Alys Bryan

Alys is a knowledgeable design editor who is focused on instigating conversations, both online and in-person, with industry experts which challenge, educate and advance the commercial interior sector. Her training and 15 years of professional experience as a furniture designer for the commercial sector makes her uniquely placed to lead Design Insider as Editor
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