Recently one of our readers/commentators wondered out loud about one negative aspect of good design. “Too bad none of it is affordable,” commented Jeff. “Alas that’s why there’s IKEA.”

It certainly is true that great design tends to come at an even greater cost, but this is not always so. And Jeff’s comment immediately made me think of one whimsical, functional objet d’art that is the perfect balance of collectibility and affordability: Eero Aarnio’s ‘Puppy’.

Eero Aarnio’s abstract ‘Puppy’ is well known to many design conscious adults as a coveted piece of modern art that harks back to the Pop era. But to kids it’s just a playful multipurpose toy that incorporates simple shapes, durable radial plastic tubing, vibrant colors and lots of imagination.

Mr. Aarnio has been designing sculptural objects that serve as furniture pieces for some time now. His 1966 ‘Ball Chair’ has garnered unwanted flattery in the form of numerous imitators producing fakes (there is a section of his website specifically dedicated to the subject), while his 1971 ‘Tomato Chair’ is so ergonomically unique, few have tried to produce a copy.

Never short on humor, Eero Aarnio has also produced collection of seats that fit any kids room. In 1973 he conceived the ‘Pony’ seat, about which he said: “A chair is a chair, is a chair, is a chair … but a seat does not necessarily have to be a chair. It can be anything as it is ergonomically correct. A seat could even be a small and soft Pony on which you can ‘ride’ or sit sideways.” He followed ‘Pony’ in 2002 with the ‘TIPI’, a birdlike seat even more odd than its predecessor.

Today Aarnio puppies have been unleashed as part of the Magis ‘Me Too’ collection. And the artist has also recently released a limited-run version of ‘Puppy’ in pink. When compared with El Ultimo Grito’s ‘Mico’ chair (137.00 plus 17.5% VAT), ‘Puppy’ is a steal at around fifty bucks (depending on the day’s currency exchange rate) – and don’t even think about pricing an original ‘Pony’ or ‘TIPI’.

‘Puppy’ is made of polyethylene, which in its conventional form is not so great for the environment. But you can’t necessarily blame Mr. Aarnio as he’s been working with plastics before the terms ‘environmental’ and ‘consciousness’ were being used frequently in the same sentence. My only hope is that his medium of choice is recycled polyethylene – the kind popular with eco-conscious artists. Then I’d be able to get a bargain price on guilt-free good design at somewhere other than the flat-pack superstore.

+Eero Aarnio
+Magis Me Too