Cradling, womb-like, and insanely sculptural, nothing tops the ingenuity of the famous Egg chair. In the 1960s, an Egg chair craze took hold of the design world thanks to Danish designer Arne Jacobsen. In 1958, Jacobsen created the official Egg chair, a masterful pairing of form and function, and this year marks this iconic design’s 60th anniversary. An instant classic, Jacobsen’s design enticed with its promise of cocooning comfort, while its quirkiness implored emulation.
Of the chairs that followed, some were egg-shaped, but others were curiously ‘hard-shelled,’ leading one to wonder: what exactly is an egg chair? To de-mystify the befuddling reference, and in honor of its big birthday, we’re shining a spotlight on Jacobsen’s original design and highlighting the best egg-inspired chairs that followed. To learn more, read on!
ARNE JACOBSEN’S EGG CHAIR
Originally designed for the lobby of the SAS Royal Hotel Copenhagen, the aim of Jacobsen’s original design was to carve out personal space in a very public setting (kind of like a super chic study corral). Featuring undulating contours, the foam-based Egg chair was considered revolutionary in an era when most designers were mostly experimenting with tubular metals. Whether cloaked in polyester or sumptuous leather, the Egg chair is an indisputable masterpiece.
Why We Love It: With high, wingback-like sides and a cradling seat, the Egg chair speaks to our most introverted desires—to curl up in headphones and pass a few hours in a blissful cocoon. Whether you fancy yourself the life of the party or not, let’s face it, we can all use an adult time-out every now and then. The Egg chair offers just that in a design package that is truly timeless.
How to Use It: With enough sculptural integrity to warrant it a statement piece in any room, Jacobsen’s Egg chair works in both traditional and contemporary interiors. With that said, to ensure it doesn’t feel a tangent in a traditional interior, choose one in a fabric that’s similar in color to your other furniture—it’ll make all the difference.
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EERO AARNIO’S BALL CHAIR
Designed by Finnish designer Eero Aarnio for his own home, the 1966 Ball chair obviously isn’t an egg shape, but does have a shell, leading to its frequent classification as an egg chair. Likewise, the Ball chair embraces the egg chair’s pea-in-a-pod mentality, as it works to not just seat the occupant, but encapsulate them. Designed using fiberglass and aluminum, the original Ball chair was based on Aarnio’s realization that chairs had become so simplistic, they could essentially be rendered as a sphere.
Why We Love It: The Ball chair doesn’t just seat you, it hides you, making it perfect for reconnecting with your inner introvert. Eero Aarnio boldly described the chair as “room within a room,” and we have to agree, that’s exactly what this sweet little mod pod is.
How to Use It: If you love the style of the Ball chair but the thought of moving one into your living room strikes a chord of panic (how wide exactly need the doorways be, again?), try opting for a kid’s size one in a playroom or nursery. While you won’t personally be lounging it, the ah-how-cute! factor just about makes up for it.
EERO AARNIO’S BUBBLE CHAIR
While officially known as the Bubble chair, type “Egg Chair” into any search bar and few of these bad boys are bound to pop up. Following the creation of his famed Ball chair, Eero Aarnio desired a version of the chair that was more easily penetrated by light. His quest led him to designing a translucent ball made out of skylight acrylic. When Aarnio failed to locate a rotating base that would add to the chair’s ethereal effect, he decided to hang the chair from the ceiling. How perfect was that call?
Why We Love It: Now a staple of Space Age design, the beauty of the Bubble chair is that is it allows the occupant to view the outside world while remaining ear-muffed to the accompanying noise. Plus, it floats. If that doesn’t sound Zen-like, we don’t know what does.
How to Use It: It may be tempting to hang a Bubble chair in an out-of-the-way nook, but we love one that’s been factored into a living room’s conversation pit. Hung adjacent to a sofa, a Bubble Chair will look purposeful, elegant, and not the least bit like an aberration.
NANNA & JØRGEN DITZEL’S HANGING EGG CHAIR
By the time they introduced their Hanging Egg chair in 1959, Danish designers Nanna and Jørgen Ditzel were already well-schooled in the art of egg chairs. The Hanging Egg chair’s predecessor, the Rana Chair, debuted in 1951 and was composed of a wicker egg shell reclined on a three-legged base. Borrowing from the Rana’s single-piece shell design, the couple’s Hanging Egg chair features a similar form but is intended to be strung from the rafters, adding what at the time was an on-trend element of movement.
Why We Love It: There’s just something so ‘70s bohemian about a swinging egg chair made out of golden, sun-warmed rattan. The perfect marriage of minimalism and romanticism, the Hanging Egg chair is made for back patio sipping or garden daydreaming. Just imagine soaking in the fading summer light in this baby.
How to Use It: Verandas and poolside arbors are sure bets for Hanging Egg chairs, but we also love the idea of one hung in a quiet bedroom corner. Paired with a pouf and a curly sheepskin it provides the ultimate bohemian hideaway.
GET TO KNOW: ARNE JACOBSEN (1902-1971)
Hometown: Copenhagen, Denmark
His dream job…. A painter (It was Arne’s father who convinced him to study architecture instead).
His actual job…Architect and designer. He was also a professor at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, School of Architecture in Copenhagen, where he studied.
On his inspiration board…. The swan, the ant, a single water droplet. During his career, Arne designed chairs that closely mimicked all of these forms and went on to name his designs accordingly.
Lead photo courtesy of Charlotte Lucas
Arne Jacobsen portrait courtesy of Republic of Fritz Hansen