Eero Aarnio is a designer who has created Balls, Bubbles and Pastils

Eero Aarnio is one of the most internationally renowned Finnish designers. The home of the designer, who turned 90 in July, reflects his life-long career in design. Step inside Eero and Pirkko Aarnios modern studio home with us!

Eero Aarnio sitting in a Ball Chair
First introduced at the Cologne Furniture Fair in 1966, the Ball Chair made Eero Aarnio internationally renown overnight. Since then, the Ball Chair has become one of the most famous chairs in the world.

BIRCHES WHISPER in the wind around the house that Eero Aarnio has designed for his family. The windows facing the yard offer a view of Lake Lamminjärvi in Veikkola, Finland, which is just the way that Eero, a professor and one of the most famous interior architects in Finland, and his wife Pirkko Aarnio like it.

When drawing the building completed in 1988, Eero particularly wanted the windows to give as extensive a view of the lake as possible.

Exterior of Eero Aarnio's house and white Magis' Puppys
Originally, Eero Aarnio applied to study Architecture. He didn’t get in due to lacking points in Mathematics and ended up studying Interior Architecture. Since then, he has also designed buildings. Eero designed both the current, modern home and the previous home in Kaskisaari.
Exterior of Eero Aarnio's house
A mossy oak greets the visitor in the front yard of the Aarnios. Living close to nature is important to Eero and Pirkko Aarnio. It also guided the design of their modern home.
Eero Aarnio's home office
Eero Aarnio has always preferred working at home. The windows in the bright studio offer an unobstructed view of the lake.

“This place is perfect for us. It couldn’t be any better. We used to live in Kaskisaari, Helsinki, but there were houses between us and the sea, and we wanted to have a shoreline of our own. We visited numerous waterfront plots, but none of them felt like home. But then we had an amazing stroke of luck and found this,” says Eero Aarnio with a glint of happiness in his eyes.

The spacious floor plan creates a good flow and the rooms are connected to each other seamlessly.

The building, built on three levels on a sloped plot, adapts to the contours of the terrain. The spacious floor plan creates a good flow and the rooms are connected to each other seamlessly. The large open fireplace in the living room is the heart of the home, around which the other functions in the home are grouped.

“On a cold and dark winter day, a fire burning in the fireplace makes the space cozy and everyone feel welcome. On the kitchen-side of the fireplace, there is a large wood-burning oven that we use for cooking. If necessary, we can heat our home with wood, which is also practical,” describes Aarnio.

Eero and Pirkko Aarnio sitting on a sofa
Eero and Pirkko Aarnio have worked together for decades. “Pirkko is my best and worst critic. I always show her my new designs first, and I trust her completely if she thinks that a design doesn’t look like something I would create.”
The large open fireplace is located at the center of the house. It is the symbolic and functional hub of the home. In the dark season, a fire burning in the fireplace creates a cozy atmosphere and heats the house. As the name suggests, the Flat Light lamps are flat. Artek’s Baby Rocket stools showcase Aarnio’s skills in designing wooden objects.
Eero Aarnio Originals Mushroom stool, large, rattan
New materials and manufacturing methods have always inspired Aarnio. The rattan Mushroom Stool was originally created when Eero decided to learn the art of rattan weaving. In recent years, the designer has been enthusiastic about the rotational casting technique, which he uses to achieve the desired shape for his light sculptures.
Oiva Toikka's ceramic horse
The ninety-something couple has an impressive book collection. For the books, Eero designed fixed bookcases. The ceramic horse is by Oiva Toikka, who designed the piece while studying at the Ateneum and sold it to Eero in the hallway of the school.

RIGHT FROM THE START, the home in Veikkola has been at the center of the Aarnios’ lives. It has been used for both everyday life and festivities – and for working very hard. At the Aarnio residence, no line is drawn between work and free time.

“I used to have a separate office in the center of Helsinki, but working from home suits me better, as I can work whenever I feel like it.”

The Aarnios have had 17 homes, and in each of them – even in the smallest, 12-square-meter studio – they have always made room for Eero’s desk. The home in Veikkola offers plenty of space for the designer to work, particularly after the building was extended with a studio in the early 2000s. The studio’s bright window corner hosts a motley group of Puppies that Eero has designed for Magis.

“I don’t, however, get my ideas sitting at the desk. I get new ideas all the time, regardless of where I am,” says Aarnio and shows the first version of a side table that he sketched a moment ago.

• Read also: Eero Aarnio, iconic designer and father of the Ball Chair: “Apply yourself and believe in yourself” >

Eero Aarnio in his studio
Born in 1932, Eero Aarnio has been awarded with Compasso d'Oro, Pro Finlandia Medal and Kaj Franck Design Prize, among others.
A detail of Eero Aarnio's hands
According to Eero Aarnio, the pen is his most important tool and the head his “computer”.
Eero Aarnio on his work desk
Despite his ninety years of age, Eero’s hand is steady and he still works almost every day.
Artemide Nesso table lamp, white
The home of Eero and Pirkko is full of fond memories. Under the couple’s wedding photo, there are rolls of sketches and drawings by grandchildren. The red lamp is Nesso by Giancarlo Mattioli, manufactured by Artemide.
Eero Aarnio Originals  Screw table, low, white
The plush yet angular linen-upholstered sofas create an interesting contrast with the round furniture designed by Eero, such as the Screw table made of shiny plastic. Flos’s Arco floor lamp was designed by the Castiglioni brothers in 1962.

The idea of a home as a collage is reflected beautifully at the Aarnio residence. At the same time, the home showcases Aarnio’s achievements in his decades-long career as a designer. The classics, such as Ball, Pastil, Pony and Bubble, as well as numerous Aarnio lamp prototypes from various eras, are an obvious part of the home’s decor.

The home also serves as a test laboratory for Aarnio’s products, which it has done already since he studied at Ateneum, the Institute of Industrial Arts in Helsinki.

The master designer, who has had a long career, has a vivid imagination and gets “new ideas all the time”.

Eero Aarnio sitting in a white Ball Chair
Eero Aarnio says that as a designer, he is both disciplined and intuitive. The first prototype of the Ball Chair is adorned by a still-working red landline telephone.
Studio Eero Aarnio Ring chair, red
The living room opens to the studio, located a couple of steps down. The row of Swan lamps has one in every color. The Ring chair, suspended from the living-room ceiling, provides ideal support for the person sitting in it.
Magis  Puppy, M, green
Due to their material, many of the newer products designed by Aarnio are suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. Magis’s Puppies perfectly reflect Aarnio’s approach to design, as they combine practicality with high quality and playfulness.

IT WAS ALSO for the needs of his family that Aarnio designed the now iconic Ball Chair in the early 1960s.

“We had recently moved with our two small children to a state-subsidized rental apartment in Puotila, Helsinki, and I wanted to design an armchair that would have enough room to fit the whole family. At first, I considered designing a cubical chair, but then I ended up rounding off the corners. I built the first prototype of the Ball Chair with Pirkko’s brother. My father-in-law used to work as a teacher in Salo, at the Uskela school. We worked on the fiber-glass Ball Chair in the school’s woodwork facility for a year, until after many twists and turns, we managed to create the desired shape.”

Now this first Ball Chair greets the designer – and everyone else – in the hallway of Aarnio’s home. It sparks conversations with friends and brings back fond memories for its creators – just as the items in a person’s home should.

Favorites by Eero Aarnio

Eero Aarnio Originals
Ball Chair
Eero Aarnio Originals
Pastil Chair
Eero Aarnio Originals
Bubble Chair
Rocket bar stool
Studio Eero Aarnio
Double Bubble
Eero Aarnio Originals
Screw table

See also:

More designs by Eero Aarnio >

Text: Selina Vienola Images: Paavo Lehtonen

This story was originally published in the Asun magazine’s issue 40.

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