12.6. - 10.8.2003

Exhibition at the Kunsthalle Helsinki, June 12 - August 10, 2003

The Kunsthalle Helsinki is about to open an extensive exhibition showcasing the wide-ranging work of Finnish designer Eero Aarnio (b. 1932). Featured exhibits will include famous icons of contemporary design, all-purpose seating, public furniture and a selection of original drafts spanning four decades. With their bold colours and Pop-inspired forms, Aarnio's Ball, Pastil and Bubble chairs captured the imagination of the trendy design set of the 1960s, a time when plastic revolutionised both furniture and interior design. Aarnio's designs have retained their appeal as firm favourites of the fashion world and pop culture, recently achieving new heights of popularity thanks to the current retro boom. Visitors are invited to see and try out the quintessential Finnish sitting experience of today and yesterday in the lap of Aarnio's classic chairs.

Eero Aarnio is one of Finland's most internationally acclaimed designers. His most famous works date from the 1960s, an era characterised by the arrival of new technology, rapid economic growth and the birth of the Finnish welfare state. In the wake of post-war urbanisation and economic restructuring, Finnish society witnessed far-reaching changes, with consumer goods coming to occupy a more and more focal role in everyday life. Furniture and interior design proliferated in a new range of free, playful and futuristic shapes and colours.

Aarnio is known for his sculptural fibreglass furniture, his use of vibrantly coloured plastic, innovative geometrical forms and sound grasp of ergonomics. In addition to world-renowned classics, his key works include lesser-known all-purpose chairs including the Polaris, UPO-022 and UPO-023, all widely used in venues ranging from theatres and assembly halls to schools and ice hockey stadiums. The office and public furniture Aarnio designed for Martela, Asko and EFG forms a major part of his oeuvre, which also extends to interiors, exhibitions, door handles and other smaller items.

Nearly forty years of Finnish cultural history are encapsulated in Aarnio's designs, especially in his famous Ball Chair. A telephone by Ericsson was installed in the first prototype in the 1960s; today, the Ball Chair is being fitted for broadband connectivity!

A book Assume a round chair. Eero Aarnio and the 60's, edited by Harri Kalha, PhD, will be published in conjunction with the exhibition, shedding light on various aspects of the Aarnio phenomenon. Also available in English translation, the book features essays by Kalha, Minna Sarantola-Weiss, PhD, and Pekka Korvenmaa, PhD. Price is 30 €.

The exhibition was kindly sponsored by Anna magazine, Clear Channel Outdoor, Nanso and the National Council for Design.
The accompanying catalogue has received funding from the Asko Foundation, the Finnish Cultural Foundation and Art-Print Ltd.

For further details: Museum Director Maija Tanninen-Mattila, tel. 09-4542 0611, / Curator Susanna Santala, tel. 09-4542 0612,

Open: Tue, Thu, Fri 11-18, Wed 11-20, Sat-Sun 12-17; Mon closed. Admission: €7/5, visitors under 18 free.