Eero Aarnio's Ball Chair
The spherical shape of Eero Aarnio’s Ball Chair is one of the most identified objects in modern design and helped to put Finland on the leading edge of design during the 1960’s. The Ball Chair has gain such great fame that it graces the galleries of modern art and design museums world wide as well as a place in popular culture with many movie appearances such in James Bond and Men in Black.
The subsequent hanging version of Eero Aarnio’s Ball Chair is entitled the Bubble Chair and has achieved international fame as well but perhaps to even higher degree. Images of the clear Bubble Chair suspended from the ceiling have been found from numerous celebrities’ homes to multiple covers of Playboy magazine. This incredible fame has also resulted in the Ball Chair and the Bubble Chair becoming one of the most commonly copied furniture designs in the world with ‘tribute’ and ‘inspired’ versions abundant on the market.
The authentic Ball Chair features an ingeniously constructed fiberglass shell with a masterfully upholstered interior and a steel base. The design is still manufactured in the same factory in Finland using the same molds as the original productions. The details of the construction give users an immediate feeling of calm and quiet that the spherical semi-enclosure provides. The precise dimensions of the original Ball Chair gives an experience that is purely unique and inspiring.
Reaching this balance was a project that began in Aarnio’s own living room in 1962 after he found that he did not have a proper large armchair for his new home. He set about creating his vision of a chair to match this need and quickly realized he was drawing a simple spherical shape. After making a full scale drawing of his design, he hung it on his wall, then with the help of his wife, drew himself into the design in order for it to fit properly to the largest member of the house. The design progressed further and eventually a functional model was created that remains in his home to this day.
That original model is seen in a very common photo showing a white Ball Chair with red upholstery and a telephone mounted to the wall. This picture is actually of Eero Aarnio himself as visible by his signature loafers that remains his style to this day. The photo was taken in his own home and the phone attached to the inside was done for his daughter (then a teenager) so she could talk more privately.
The design came to be a production model after visitors from the Asko furniture company were meeting with Aarnio at his home about a different piece and quickly took note of his new spherical chair. After a couple years of making the model ready for production, the Ball Chair was introduced to the world in 1966 at the international furniture fair in Cologne. The success was immediate and the Ball Chair quickly found itself a place in popular culture across the globe. This design set the stage for Aarnio’s career in which he has produced numerous designs that have become international successes.