Few furniture designs have reached the iconic status of the bubble hanging chair! The chair is considered as among the best in industrial design because of its combination of innovative use of plastic, modernist approach, and quintessential 1960s feel.
Such is its contemporary appeal that nearly 50 years after its original market introduction, it has spawned countless clones and versions. Indeed, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery for its original designer, as well as the best way to provide the masses with the opportunity to own an iconic chair.
Today, you will find dozens of choices in ball hanging chairs. While the basic shape – a ball cut in half – remains, the sizes, colors, and materials used vary. Everything, nonetheless, is about timeless glamour, personal comfort, and customizable space.
Here are a few more things you will want to know about the ball hanging chair from how it began to how to use it well.
History of the Bubble Hanging Chair
Eero Aarnio, a world-famous Finnish designer, designed the first hanging bubble chair in 1968. He is considered as one of the 20th century’s greatest design innovators whose works are displayed in the Museum of Modern Art, Victoria and Albert Museum, and Vitra Design Museum. His works can also be found in countless residential and commercial establishments.
He is best known for breaking away from traditional designs. His works are the results of his experimentations with plastics, colors, and organic curved forms, such as the sphere.
Such is the perfection of his hanging chair’s design that it comes as mild shock to know that its hanging design comes only by accident. According to Arnio himself, he wanted a proper big chair but he was unable to find something suitable. In the tradition of the best inventors, he made it himself but added his own twist. He has also invented the famous ball chair, which is very similar to bubble chairs.
After a few drawings, he noticed that the chair’s shape was becoming so simple it was merely a ball cut almost in half. He then pinned a full-scale drawing onto the wall, sat on the air while imagining himself seated on it, and voila! The bubble chair was born.
His idea for it was to create a room within a room. Basically, the chair can be turned so that the user can either turn toward other people or away from them, thus, creating a small private oasis. The curved design also allowed the user to enjoy a sense of peace and quiet since the noise level was reduced inside the chair.
He made a prototype that formed the basis for the ball hanging chair nearly 50 years afterwards. His prototype impressed Asko, a Scandinavian appliance company, and before long, it was in production.
But Aarnio also introduced a few key changes to the overall design. First, he chose acrylic because he wanted the chair to have light from all directions. He also chose it because it was easy to make and manipulate into any shape.
Since acrylic was heated and blown into shape in a similar way as a soap bubble, he named the chair as the bubble chair. Acrylic, by the way, is a type of durable transparent plastic.
Second, he hung the bubble chair from a ceiling because of a happy accident, so to speak. At the time, creating a totally clear pedestal wasn’t possible, not to mention that it would have taken away from the original idea of being in a floating bubble. Thus, he designed a chain that will hang the chair from the ceiling.
And that is how the bubble hanging chair came to be! Aarnio once again designed a chair that virtually swallows its user and provides a sense of privacy even in a room filled with people. Aside from the sense of happy solitude in it, the chair also provided its user with a relaxing floating sensation.
Of course, the hanging bubble chair had its share of name changes. Asko called it Bing Bong when it was first introduced in the European market. Charles Stendig, an American importer, called it the Bubble Chair.
As with most iconic furniture designs, the ball hanging chair comes in a wide range of prices. Original designer chairs can cost upwards of $5,000 but there are plenty of copies and clones that will knock a zero off the price.
Three types of Bubble Chairs
Reasons for Choosing It
The beauty of the ball hanging chair partly lies in its versatility in use. Just think of the dozens of its possible applications including:
- In residential and commercial establishments
The ball hanging chair has been installed in grand mansions and small apartments. This isn’t surprising as it has a certain classic yet contemporary quality that makes it blend well with virtually any décor theme. The acrylic provides a transparent material that makes it both a conversation piece and a background piece.
This is also a chair that comes in a wide range of sizes. As such, it can be tucked into a corner or placed in the middle of the room. It can even fit well in small apartments since it doesn’t take up floor space, literally!
Even five-star hotels have their own versions of the ball hanging chair. A few or several chairs can be placed in lobbies, pools and gardens, and rooms for the guests to enjoy.
- In socialization and isolation
The hanging ball chair can be installed in such a way that it encourages socialization and/or isolation depending on the arrangement. A few chairs, for example, can be placed side-by-side or facing each other for a more sociable arrangement. A single chair can also be placed in a corner as a small private oasis.
Even when a few chairs are placed in a sociable arrangement, the bubble hanging chair’s basic design can easily turn them into a room within a room. Each user, for example, can lay back or curl up inside the chair and shut out the world. The transparent cocoon is at once visible to the world yet hidden from it, thanks to the reduced sound level inside.
- Hanging from the ceiling or hanging from a stand
The ball hanging chair can also be installed in two ways, namely, hanging from the ceiling via a chain or hanging from a durable stand. In both cases, the floating sensation remains.
The installation steps will obviously be different between the two hanging methods. When hanging the chair from the ceiling, a professional installer will be a good idea for best results, especially since safety, balance and durability are a must. Many owners, however, can successfully install it with basic do-it-yourself skills as well as power and manual tools.
When hanging the chair from a stand, the process becomes simpler since a few steps aren’t necessary. The stand itself has features that allow for fast, easy and convenient attachment of the chair, such as a strong and sturdy S-hook.
Furniture buyers can also find bubble chairs mounted on stands. These chairs make it possible for consumers to enjoy the beauty and versatility of a hanging bubble chair without the more challenging installation. The stand can either be in transparent plastic or in opaque metal although both are beautiful.
While the original bubble hanging chair was made with transparent acrylic, many contemporary versions come in opaque designs in all colors of the rainbow. But when you’re looking for a contemporary classic, transparent acrylic is still the best material.
Such transparency lends itself well to homes with avant-garde and contemporary interiors, especially with glass-and-steel themes. The hanging chairs can be placed against a backdrop of glass to provide an unfettered view of the outdoors.
These chairs can also be placed against a wooden, concrete, or granite background. People will appreciate the contrasts in textures between the two materials – one inorganic, the other organic.
Uses for the Hanging Bubble Chair
Indeed, the ball hanging chair can be used by children and adults alike. The trick is in finding the right size and height that will suit their varied needs and wants in it.
Keep in mind that choosing the right location is key to making full use of its benefits. A few tips to remember in this regard:
- Pick a room where the chair will likely be used by people. You can place it in the living room, patio or deck, and bedroom, as well as in outdoor spaces like pools and gardens.
- Choose a spot where it will be used for its primary purpose. You have to decide whether it will be used as a reading nook or as hangout spot. You can then choose the best spot, such as in a corner or near the middle of the area, respectively.
- Take advantage of the scenic areas. Your chairs, for example, can be installed facing the garden or the pool. You can then shift between retreating into your cocoon and appreciating the beauty of nature.
Just be sure to choose a spot where the ceiling or customized frame can actually hold one or a few of the hanging ball chairs. Safety is always the paramount concern in the use of hanging furniture.
With that said, here are a few uses that customers have made for their chairs.
As a reading nook
This is one of the more common uses for the chair. The floating feeling adds to the relaxed mind and body essential in enjoying a book or magazine. The ball-like design also deadens exterior sound, especially when you’re curled up inside, which means better reading.
As an outdoor oasis
The chair can be installed in the garden or beside the pool. You can use it as your personal retreat without going on a faraway vacation. You’re well-advised to place a protective cover (i.e., roof) over it to protect the acrylic from premature wear and tear.
As a teen zone
The chair has such a fun design that even teenagers today have taken a liking to it. You can place it in the middle or in a corner of your teen’s bedroom depending on his/her uses for it. Since it’s in transparent acrylic, you don’t have to worry about it clashing with any color scheme in his/her sanctuary.
Even an adult male and female will appreciate it in his or her room, too! You can place it in a man-cave or bachelor’s pad since it has a neutral design. You may also install it in a bachelorette pad since it can be made more feminine with the addition of colourful cushions.
As a hangout
This can be done by hanging two or three – or more, if the space allows for it – in a semi-circle arrangement. You and your group will love the feeling of floating on bubbles and enjoy each other’s company.
Depending on its placement, a hanging bubble chair can evoke a casual or formal feel. For example, it has a more casual feel when it’s used as a teen hangout but a more formal feel when it’s placed in a five-star hotel’s lobby. You can even just change the cushions to transform it from casual to formal, and back again.
Let’s take a look at a few of the benefits aside from the ones mentioned above, too.
- Durable materials
The materials used in these chairs are usually durable, strong and sturdy, especially for the high-end ones. Acrylic has high resistance against dents, scratches and heat while the metal chain has sufficient strength to carry the chair and its occupant’s weight.
Many chairs are even weather-resistant in the sense that these have high resistance against the wind, sun, and rain. These chairs are usually placed in outdoor settings.
- Customizable options
The chair can be personalized although in a limited way. The customization options include the height from the ceiling, the type and color of cushions, and the placement in the area. While stickers, decals and spray paints can be placed on its surface, these aren’t recommended because the chair’s beauty lies in its elegant simplicity.
No matter your choice, you will find that the bubble hanging chair will become your new favorite piece of furniture. You may even take it along on your relocations.
Tips in Hanging the Bubble Chair
Many owners prefer professional installation because the results are likely to be better than a do-it-yourself project. But you can also make it as your DIY project when you have the knowledge, skills and tools for it.
Your first step should be to read the installation instructions, if any. You will find the useful steps and tips that can result in a safe installation.
Even without the instructions, you can still hang the chair on your own. Just be sure to research online for a step-by-step guide, ask family and friends with experience in its installation, and take the time to know the product’s parts first.
Here are a few general installation tips to keep in mind.
First, gather the necessary tools. You will likely need the following:
- Power Drill including its drill bit, 5/16-inch
- Tape measure
- Beam or ceiling joist finder
- Vise grip
You should also prepare the hanging chair kit, which usually includes the chain and chair.
Second, decide on the location. Your best location should be in a place where the ceiling’s beam or joist can actually support the chair and its occupant’s combined weight.
Third, determine the length of the chain. Aarnio himself has said that the chair should ideally hang 6 inches off the ground for optimum comfort. You may also use this simple method:
- Measure the distance from the floor to the ceiling.
- Subtract 60 inches.
- Measure the length of the eyebolt’s threaded end (i.e., the eyebolt should be including in the hanging chair kit).
Be sure to use a stepladder when measuring. You should have an assistant, too, since the measuring and installing processes require it.
You can also use this method in measuring the height:
- Measure the height of a chair with a height you’re comfortable sitting on
- Get the chain’s length by adding the chair’s height off the floor and the chair’s total height.
- Subtract the difference from the total distance between the ceiling and floor.
For example, let’s assume the hanging chair is 36 inches high and it will hang 17 inches off the floor. If the ceiling-floor distance is 144 inches, the chain’s ideal length is 91 inches.
Fourth, install the hanging bubble chair. You should have an easier time here with these tips:
- Use a pen mark to mark the holes on the beam or joist.
- Drill the holes using a power drill with the right drill bit.
- Hammer in the plugs into the hole.
- Place the power hook into position and tighten the screws.
- Fasten the chain to the power hook.
- Lift the hanging chair and latch it to the chain’s hanging end.
You have to test the balance and safety of the ball hanging chair before letting others use it.
Be sure to clean your hanging bubble chair on a regular basis. Once a week, clean it using a soft cloth to wipe away the dirt, dust and debris on its inside and outside surfaces. Shake out the cushions, too, to remove dust and dirt, as well as remove stains as soon as possible.
More important, you shouldn’t treat the chair as a swing. You must avoid twisting and spinning in it because these activities can loosed the screw and weaken the chain.
What are you waiting for? Buy your own bubble hanging chair now!