Eero Aarnio as pioneer in using plastic in industrial design

Aarnio was one of the pioneers in using plastic in industrial design. Plastic material set the designers free to create every shape and use every color they wanted. This gave birth to objects oscillating between function and fun - but always fascinating ones.

The finnish designer Eero Aarnio, born in 1932, studied from 1954 to 1957 at the Institute of Industrial Arts in Helsinki and started in 1962 with his own office as an interior and industrial designer.

Engaged in new ideas of furniture he designed the Ball Chair (or globe chair) already in 1963.

It was produced some years later. Material (fibreglass) and shape were complete novelties for that time's furniture industry. The fibreglass ball is build on a metal swiveling base, and upholstered with foam/fibrefill. The original colors were white, red, black and orange.

Sitting in this chair is a special experience, because all surrounding sounds are softed down, and it gives a certain feeling of privacy. Aarnio himself has a ball chair with a telephone in it, and some people had it fitted with speakers.

The Ball Chair is often used in sci fi films, and you’ll find it in magazines. Vivienne Westwood used some Ball Chairs in one of her shows. In the following years fibreglass as used in boat construction became one of Aarnio's favorite materials. The resistant and well workable fibreglass enabled Aarnio to design ergonomic forms without restrictions -and intriguing new ones too.

With Pastil Chair (American Industrial Design-Award 1968) and Tomato Chair he earned international reputation. Chairs like these can be used both indoors and outdoors, and they float!
- Besides, Pastil Chair gives a new, extraordinary idea of what a rocking chair is.

Also in 1968 Aarnio designed the Bubble Chair, made from acryl and chromed steel. An actual example of his design gives the new fibreglass chair Formula (1998).

Here are some books with some information about Eeero Aarnio and his designs:

Aarnio’s designs seem to be more alive than ever. You’ll find the Ball Chair on the cover of Cara Greenberg's recommended book Op to Pop: Furniture of the sixties.

Chairs from Charlotte and Peter Fiell.
A careful selection of all the best examples from the 1000 Chairs book.

Designer Eero Aarnio