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 Aarnio’s modern studio home with us!
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.
“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.
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.
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”.
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
Text: Selina Vienola Images: Paavo Lehtonen
This story was originally published in the Asun magazine’s issue 40.