Note: This piece was syndicated from our friends at Architectural Digest. Read the article on their site here.
“She’s so ahead of our time.” This is the top comment, liked over 26,000 times, on Architectural Digest’s TikTok video in which Emma Chamberlain shows off her poolside corn stool collection. “My thing with furniture is have fun with it,” she says. “I just choose things that make me smile and chuckle and start a conversation.” Though the starchy vegetable is largely considered a staple of the summer, corn’s unofficial PR department was seemingly working overtime last season when the influencer’s Open Door premiered.
The seven-year-old Tariq, now colloquially called corn kid, went viral following his declaration of his love for corn on the YouTube show Recess Therapy. “I can’t imagine a more beautiful thing,” he says between bites of a juicy, butter-covered cob. Like any good internet moment, the fun didn’t stop there. Parody music group Schmoyoho turned the interview into a song, giving corn another boost of public affection. Even today, the corn reverie continues with Shucked, a new corn-comedy Broadway musical, which opened at the Nederlander Theatre last week. And Emma, seemingly, was just a few skips before all of this.
Of course, open the replies to that comment, and another story is apparent. “I wanted one of these three years ago,” someone writes. “Girl no hate, but I know at least 15 people in LA who have at least one of these corn tables,” another user adds. While perhaps the highest honor on the internet—and source of pride—is knowing about something before it’s something, these people are right: The corn stool isn’t new.
Giant Corn Stool, as the piece is officially called, was designed over 10 years ago by Abi Crompton, the creative director and founder of Australian brand Third Drawer Down. However it didn’t gain major traction in the US until about three or four years ago. “When I first saw it online—likely on Instagram, to be perfectly honest—I was overwhelmed by this perfect union of whimsy, playfulness, and elegance,” says Janie Korn, a proud owner of the corn stool. While the artist doesn’t remember exactly when the piece first found its way to her feed, Janie estimates that it was at least four—maybe five—years ago. “I needed it badly,” she adds. Eventually, Janie obtained the corn stool in true New York fashion: It was left out on the curb during trash day, and her friend saved it from its dumpster fate before passing it off to her. “Every time I gaze upon it I chuckle,” she says. “It feels like an inside joke between me and my home, with the punchline being that I’m a Korn with a corn.”
The corn stool’s recent popularity can loosely be traced to its inclusion in design shops like New York City’s Coming Soon as well major retailers like Urban Outfitters. But it wasn’t immediately loved. “It wasn’t an easy sell,” recalls Helena Barquet, one of the cofounders of Coming Soon. She and her partner Fabiana Faria (the other cofounder) were originally drawn to the irreverent, whimsical aspect to the piece, though it was misunderstood when they first started stocking it in 2018. “People weren’t sure what it was,” Helena continues. “In the beginning, it was definitely slow.” Sales and interest started to pick up once the founders contextualized the stool more with photos of it in use.