Few furniture designers have transformed the use of color and materials in modern furniture design as has Eero Aarnio. Born in 1932, the Finnish designer is infamous worldwide for his experimental use of plastics, color and unique shapes that transformed the contemporary design world in the 1960s.
Aarnio transformed modern design with his unique creations such as the Ball chair. The ball chair was created in 1963 amidst the turbulent era of the 60s. Its now iconic shape was a cross between art, architecture and function as the ball chair defied conventional designs in local furniture stores.
For the first time, Aarnio worked with non-traditional materials and it sparked a lifetime love affair for the modern furniture designer who learned his furniture design skills at the Institute of Industrial Arts in Helsinki from 1954 to 1957. Several years later, in 1962, Eero Aarnio started his own interior and industrial design office.
The next year is when he designed the Ball chair, which is a sphere with a section removed from the seat and filled with cushioning for person to escape inside and relax. This chair is seen in museums worldwide and was also widely used in films due to its unique, geometric shape.
Aarnio was known for his innovative use of fiberglass and then later on, other plastics that were safer for manufacturing. His next innovative use of materials was in the Pastil chair. Designed in 1967, it was the antithesis of the Ball chair, or created to fill the void in the Ball chair. Eero Aarnio himself has said that it was designed to fill the space and is exactly the same diameter of the Ball chair.
This innovative chair can be used indoors and outdoors and its functional design allows it to be used with similar ease on the water as a raft or down a hill as a sled, making the iconic Pastil chair the perfect child’s toy.
Aarnio’s next innovation was the Bubble Chair. Constructed of acrylic and steel, the Bubble Chair suspends from a steel chain in the ceiling. Similar to the ball chair in how it envelopes you in its shell, the Bubble chair brings a modern yet unique feel to how you lounge. The clear chair was one of several furniture designs that have appeared in science fiction movies. Aarnio has said he liked the ball chair and wanted one that let all the light in, hence the bubble chair with its clear acrylic shell that revolutionized modern furniture design in the late 1960s.
In the early 70s Aarnio earned acclaim for his Tomato Chair which was an offsproing of the Pastil chair except with armrest extensions. Part art, part function, the Tomato chair emulated the ease of use of the Pastil chair with the ability to survive outside or on the water but in pure comfort.
Next Aarnio had a little fun as he created a Pony chair for modern furniture store. Designed for adults, this chair in the shape of a pony has also enamored children for years. Indeed, children are enraptured by Aarnio, who has created timeless designs that defy time periods and traditional convention on furniture designs.
In recent years, Aarnio has taken his innovative designs to other pieces of furniture such as the Parabel table in 1994. The sleek-lined, off-centered side table incorporates art as function. These days Aarnio has moved beyond traditional plastics and old fiberglass into a new fiberglass that is also used in boat design. His latest designs incorporate these as seen in his Tipi, a bird-like piece of furniture created in 2002. Aarnio is still designing and manufacturing in Finland. Yet his modern furniture pieces such as the ball chair and bubble chair still remain modern classics in furniture stores today.