Who is Eero Aarnio and why you should know him.
Eero Aarnio (b. 1932) is a Finnish designer whose signature piece is the Bubble Chair, designed in 1968. He has said it is his favorite creation but interestingly the hanging Bubble chair came about by accident. Like many designers in the 1960’s, Aarnio was keen to work in plastic. When he was designing the Bubble Chair he said, “I wanted to have light inside it,” deciding that acrylic was the only “suitable material.” When he couldn’t make a clear pedestal to match the seat he decided to hang the chair instead. He explained that the acrylic used to make the chair “is heated and blown into shape like a soap bubble”, thus the name.
Of course, the Bubble chair is not Aarnio’s only design. The Ball chair, designed in 1966, preceded it and was his first success. Aarnio claims the Ball was borne out of necessity, explaining that he designed it when he had nothing to sit on after moving into his first home. Not all of us manage such a classic when faced with this common problem!
As for the chosen round shape of both chairs, it has been suggested that the shape references the Sputnik/space age focus in the 1960’s. Aarnio, however, tosses that off, explaining that the shape has more to do with the materials, adding that the round form was best for fiberglass and plastic products because you get maximum strength with little material.
Aarnio made other furniture from plastic as well, including his Pastil chair, his Tomato chair (both of which float) and his Screw Table.
But Eero Aarnio didn’t just work in plastics. He also created a number of pieces in wicker, plus a leather upholstered and chrome rocking chair known as the Keinu rocker.
Eero Aarnio is in his 80’s and is still creating. In recent years, he has designed charming toys and furniture for children, as well as other items . You can see and source all of his products via his website.
Photo Credits: Bubble chair Bubble chair with rafters designed by Kelly Hoppen, Bubble Chair with Kilim via Design Sponge Ball Chair via Apartment Therapy Pastil Chair with woman Pastil chair floating Tomato chair in the garden White Tomato Chair Screw Table Wicker Rocking chair Puppy Tree Aarnio portrait. Aarnio quotes from the Financial Times, 2/3/13.