Eero Aarnio’s iconic Bubble Chair, first designed in 1963, is a clear, ball-shaped seat that hangs from the ceiling
Words by Debika Ray
The Bubble Chair is a true icon of the 1960s. Designed by celebrated Finnish designer Eero Aarnio, the chair was decidedly futuristic at the time it was launched. A spin-off of his earlier Ball Chair, the Bubble retained the same circular shape, but instead of standing on a leg it hangs from the ceiling.
The Ball Chair was designed in 1963, and is also known as the globe chair. At the time it was designed, the Ball Chair’s shape was completely unconventional. The chair’s spherical form creates a unique acoustic around the user.
Aarnio was prompted to make the Bubble Chair because he wanted to see what it would be like to have the Ball Chair allow light inside. The Ball Chair, he had discovered, was too dark to comfortably read inside.
The main difference between the two was that the Bubble Chair was attached to the ceiling via a chain and was made of transparent material, so that it allowed light in from all directions and appeared to hang in mid-air, like a bubble.
The Ball chair sat on a pedestal, but Aarnio decided to hang the Bubble because there was no way to make a clear pedestal and he didn’t want to break the illusion of the chair floating. The chair has a solid steel frame and both the Ball and the Bubble create the feeling of a cocoon around the user, a safe and isolated space.
It shows off the advantages of designing with plastic. It features in various magazine shoots, including with a nude model sitting in the Bubble for Playboy.
Eero Aarnio is considered to be one of the greatest innovators in modern furniture design. Over the course of his career, he experimented with materials such as plastic, fibreglass, plexiglass and foam plastic. As well as furniture, Aarnio also created several well known lamps, including the Swan and Double Bubble, and stools.
Aarnio’s work is part of several permanent museum collections around the world, including at the Victoria and Albert Hall Museum in London, the MoMA in New York and the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein in Germany. He has also been granted many illustrious design awards.
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