Eero Aarnio’s Pastil Chair: The Most Comfortable Form to Hold Up the Human Body

An ergonomically designed floating 'inner tube' for fishing and an indoor rocking chair for reading, the Pastil Chair is a multi-tasking masterpiece.  It is the second in line of Aarnio's iconic plastic creations which echo the pop culture and spirit of their time, debuted in 1967, after the Ball Chair (presented at the International Furniture Fair Cologne 1966), and prior to the Bubble Chair (1968).  Through these pieces (amongst others), Aarnio explored the possibilities of the new material plastic while remaining true to the Scandinavian design tradition of quality and durability.

Pastil Chair. Designed by Eero Aarnio.

The product shape comes from a small lozenge, a 'pastil'.  The idea was that "a lot of empty, cushioned space is sent to the other side of the world inside the Ball Chair.  A new round chair would fit in this space, and so the diameter of the Pastil chair is the same as the opening of the ball chair."  Aarnio made the first prototype out of polystytrene to verify the measurements, ergonomics and rocking ability.  A year after completing its design, he received the American Industrial Design Award (1968) for the Pastil Chair - and  The New York Times described it and the Ball Chair as "the most comfortable forms to hold up the human body".

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From the Ball chair Aarnio designed the Bubble Chair - an adaptation or 'improvement' of its design.  Similarly, Aarnio designed the Tomato chair to improve upon the design of the Pastil chair. Aarnio explains, "I realized that Pastil Chair floats and carries the person who sits in it in water but it is very rickety. If there were three items like two great armrests and the back of the chair would be stable, and this is how the idea of the Tomato Chair was born."

Well known for his innovative furniture designs in the 1960s, notably his plastic and fiberglass chairs, Aarnio's work is iconic and the Pastil chair is no exception.  Designed to be viewed from many angles, it's best as a free-standing piece rather than being hidden in a corner.  Bold, shiny and colorful - it adds a bit of fun to any environment.

Posted December 7, 2009 by Jenny Rector

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