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‘Ball Chair’ comes to Seoul with Aarnio exhibit

Mar 17,2018
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The Eero Aarnio exhibition at the Hyundai Card Design Library showcases six pieces of furniture by Finnish designer Aarnio until May 13. [YOON SO-YEON]
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The best designs are sometimes the simplest ones, and visitors to Hyundai Card Design Library in central Seoul can witness simplicity at its finest through the Eero Aarnio exhibition, held until May 13 on the first floor of the library.

The exhibition features six pieces of furniture including chairs and tables by the designer, as well as decades-old design sketches by the man himself, through which his genius works were conceived and created. The whole theme of the exhibit is based on a 2016 retrospective at the Design Museum Helsinki, Finland, where he was born and raised.

Born in 1932, Aarnio carved his name in the book of design with his “Ball Chair,” a design icon that quickly became famous after the Finnish designer presented it at the Cologne Furniture Fair in 1966. The chair looks almost too simple: A ball with an opening big enough to fit a person, lined with cushions to make it comfortable to sit in. Neither the shape nor the color carries any hint of extravagance, but still captures the eye of the beholder.

“Design observing the basics” was Aarnio’s motto, which he still keeps to this day. All his other designs were similarly simple and powerful, such as the “Bubble Chair,” which is similar to the “Ball Chair,” but hangs down from the ceiling rather than standing on the ground. “Pony” is a pony-shaped chair, which is not only comfortable to sit on, but thoughtfully designed with a touch of humor.

Other exhibits also display his witty experiment with form, in which he changed the idea of where we should rest our bodies. “We needed a large chair for our home and since I tend to simplify things, I removed the corners. The result was a ball,” explained the designer.

Two videos, which explains the historical context in which Aarnio brought his designs to life and his creative process, are played at the exhibition.

After looking around the exhibit, visitors can take the time to sit in the library on the second floor.

The shelves are filled with books related to art and design, and the library displays its “Rare Collection” books - old books on specific topics that are rare and unusual finds - every month with different subjects. This month’s theme is “The Power of Movement.”

BY YOON SO-YEON [yoon.soyeon@joongang.co.kr]

To go to Hyundai Card Design Library, get off at Anguk Station, line No. 3, exit 2 and walk for 10 minutes. Entrance is free, but the library is only open to holders of Hyundai Cards. The library is open from 12 p.m. to 9 p.m. from Tuesday to Saturday, and to 6 p.m. on Sundays and public holidays. It is closed on Mondays.