The stool moves around the room depending on who needs it; the daybed on the right of the photo is often used for overnight guests, and the walnut stool can be placed next to it as a temporary nightstand.
Of course, you don't have to pick just one, this pair makes you do a double-take and pay attention to the different shapes.
It's interesting to look at all of Charles and Ray's prior experimental designs that mixed bent wood and metal and compare them to this carved wood piece. While polished, the process of making this is more primitive. The piece serves as a functional sculpture. It's taken a form that seems traditional and familiar (the stools are often compared to chess pieces) and made it modern.
Ray Eames' background in sculpture helps explain the stool designs. She originally designed them for the ultra-modern lobby of the Time Life Building in 1960. They were created as accent pieces to go with this Eames Lobby Chair. This is the new version of the original Lobby Chair, which is licensed by Vitra. You can also find vintage versions on the web from auction houses and sites like eBay.
The stools work just fine on their own as well. Here a line of them becomes a gallery-like display of sculptures. Usually I'd expect to see artwork on a long wall like this. Painting the wall orange and leaving the long plane of the wall unadorned exaggerates the perspective, and the way the stools draw the eye toward the ground creates another line in perspective, which emphasizes it even more. Very clever!
The stools are crafted of solid turned walnut, stand 15" high, and yes, you may flip them: The top and bottom each has a concave surface. The stool works well as a side table for books or a bowl of snacks; just make sure you put something flat on top of it before balancing a drink. Concave surface + martini glass = vodka spillage.
The stools are great at breaking things up a bit. Almost everything in this room is rectilinear, including the light boxes on the wall, the pattern on the rug, the windows, the floating media shelf and the upholstered chairs. The shape of the walnut stool is a nice contrast to all of these elements and keeps things from being too square.