Ball Chair by Eero Aarnio 1963
The Ball Chair - or Globe Chair as it's called sometimes - was designed by using one of the most simple geometric forms - the ball. Cutting of a part and fixing it at one point Eero Aarnio comes to a remarkable result - a completely unconventional shaped chair:
A Ball Chair is a "room within a room" with a cozy and calm athmosphere, protecting outside noises and giving a private space for relaxing or having a phonecall. Turning around its own axis on the base the view to the outer space is variable for the user and thus he is not completely excluded from world outside.
The Vitra Design Museum notes in his brochure on the Ball Chair miniature: "It is something between a piece of furniture and a piece of architecture and at the same time embodies both the mobile and the established, the fixed." - You'll find this miniature at the Vitra Design Museum's Shop.
click thumbnails to enlarge
Aarnio: "The idea of the chair was very obvious. We had moved to our first home and I had started my free-lance career in 1962.We had a home but no proper big chair, so I decided to make one, but some way a really new one.
After some drawing I noticed that the shape of the chair had become so simple that it was merely a ball. I pinned the full scale drawing on the wall and ‚sat' in the chair to see how my head would move when sitting inside it. Being the taller one of us I ‚sat' in the chair and my wife drew the course of my head on the wall. This is how I determined the height of the chair. Since I aimed at a ball shape, the other lines were easy to draw, just remembering that the chair would have to fit through a doorway.
After this I made the first prototype myself using an inside mould, which has been made using the same principle as a glider fuselage or wing. I covered the plywood body mould with wet paper and laminated the surface with fiberglass, rubbed down the outside, removed the mould from inside, had it upholstered and added the leg. In the end I installed the red telephone on the inside wall of the chair. The naming part of the chair was easy, the BALL CHAIR was born."
The result was great. It was the birth of one of the most remarkable chairs in the furniture history of the 20th century.
This first hand made Ball Chair is still standing in Eero's house. It was this first prototype two young managers from the company Asko discovered when visiting Eero to see some pine wood designs. They were immediatly impressed and convinced of the phenomenal design. It took a few years to get it into production.
1966 the Ball Chair was presented at the international furniture fair in Cologne. It was the sensation of the fair, the international breakthrough for Eero Aarnio and the start for a whole line of fibreglass designs by Aarnio.
The video EERO AARNIO - solid shapes of the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE gives some insight on how ball chairs are made.
Attention: There's an unauthorized copy of Ball Chair - it´s called sphere chair. Don't mix it up! You will recognize the fake by its polished metal pedestal.
If you like to see the Aarnio furniture in different colors please visit our colors page.