Eero Aarnio – Finnish Furniture Designer

Posted on 25th July 2011 in Finland Designers

Eero Aarnio is best known for his use of acrylic plastic, functional forms, playful colors and user friendly furniture. Considered a pioneer in the use of this material in industrial design, he was born in Helinski, Finland in 1932. Studying at the Institute of Industrial Arts from 1954-1957, he began designing for both interior and industrial use. One of his first pieces was the Ball Chair in 1963 made of fiberglass.

Modern furniture was never going to be the same. The fiberglass ball connected to a metal swiveling base with the cushions containing foam and fiberfill. Originally produced with the color choices of white, red, black and orange, one of the novelties of this chair was that it provided an enclosed sense of space and sound. Sitting inside makes you feel like you are in your own private enclosed space. Some people actually add speakers and Aarnio fitted a ball chair with a telephone. This chair unlike the Bubble Chair, was affixed to a base that would allow for rotation yet still providing a sense of being in a space within a space.

Fascinated with this material, fiberglass, he continued his exploration of contemporary furniture designing functional pieces while stretching the boundaries of shape and form. His next designs in modern furniture included the Pastil chair which won a 1968 American Industrial Design Award and the Tomato Chair which gained him international recognition. Both of these chairs were meant to float in water providing a shiny smooth surface that is as much sculpture as it is a place to sit.

One of his better known pieces is the Bubble Chair, which he designed in 1968 which again utilized modern furniture materials, this time exploring the use of acrylic and chromed steel. Similar to the Ball Chair, it also provides a sense of privacy and enclosure. The original design was based on the dome shape of a skylight.  Since he was not able to produce a clear pedestal base for the chair like he wanted, he instead choose to hang it from the ceiling.

Not wanting to block the outside light he included clear as a material color choice. In this way the world can easily be observed from a quiet and calm place. Used on movie sets in sci-fi flicks it can also easily fit into the scheme of a contemporary furniture design providing a welcome place to sit and certainly creating a novel modern furniture conversation piece.


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