This funny looking thing is a footstool - I always call it a tuffet :) Its core is made from a 12 inch cardboard tube, with several other smaller tubes bolted around it. I screwed wooden slats to the top, cut a piece of dense foam for the cushion, and covered it w/ material.
It's actually very sturdy and can even be used as a seat. The colors don't really work in my new living room, so that will be changing soon. New paint, new fabric, still funky as ever!