In the 1960s, Finnish designer Eero Aarnio was one of several pioneering designers, including Richard Schultz, Joe Colombo, and Verner Panton, who shaped plastic into extraordinary forms. Then and today, Aarnio’s explorations with plastics yield objects that are as much fanciful sculptures as ergonomic designs.
Born in Helsinki, Finland, in 1932, Aarnio has spent his life exploring and surpassing the perceived limitations of both organic and synthetic materials. He studied at the Institute of Industrial Arts in Helsinki, and soon after opened an interior and industrial design office. One of his first experiments with plastic yielded the Ball Chair, which The New York Times described as one of “the most comfortable forms to hold the human body.”
The now iconic design—a fiberglass reinforced polyester sphere—has been used in countless films and photo shoots, and is included in the collections of some of the world’s most prestigious museums. Aarnio followed this success with other award-winning designs, including the Pastil, Polaris, Tomato, and Pony chairs.
From his studio in Finland, Aarnio continues to create functional and whimsical designs, including Puppy, a molded plastic creation that’s both a chair and a child’s plaything, designed for Italian manufacturer Magis.
First Prize, International Competition on Furniture Design, Cantu, 1964
First Prize, Scandinavian Park and Street Competition Stockholm, 1965
International Design Award of the A.I.D. (American Institute of Interior Designers) for Pastil Chair (Gyro), 1968
Honorary member of SIO (Finnish Association of Interior Designers), 1999
The Finland Prize, The Ministry of Education, 2005
Interior Innovation Award Cologne, 2006
The Compasso d’Oro Design award for Trioli Chair, 2008
Kaj Frank Design Prize, 2008
Red Dot Design Award Winner, Kubo Brightlight therapy lamp, 2010
Wallpaper Design Award, Kubo Brightlight therapy lamp, 2011
Red Dot Design Award, Ghost Lamp, 2012