The Original Egg Chair Actually Looks Nothing Like an Egg

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From the mundane to the quirky and outdated, Here's the Thing explores the histories and legends of the objects in our homes.

When you think of an "egg chair," you're probably picturing, well, an egg-shaped chair. Perhaps one that's oblong like an egg, with a cushioned hollow for sitting — you know, like the one made famous by this scene in ​Men in Black​ (1997) when potential recruits take a written test while sitting in said chair. And technically, you wouldn't be wrong! But that egg chair is not ​the​ Egg chair, though it was probably inspired by it.

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As it turns out, there have been several egg chairs throughout history, but there's only one trademarked Egg, capital E. Or actually, capital Æ. Let us explain.

Arne Jacobsen's Egg chair sold at Fritz Hansen.
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What is an Egg chair, and who designed it?

The original Egg chair was designed by Danish architect Arne Jacobsen, who 1stDibs reports was tasked with creating not only the building, but also the furniture for the new Scandinavian Airlines System (SAS) Royal Hotel in Copenhagen during the mid-1950s. One of the many pieces to come out of the project was his famous Egg — or ​Ægget​ in Danish — in 1958.

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It has also been suggested that Jacobsen might have drawn inspiration from Finnish-American designer Eero Saarinen's Womb Chair, developed a decade earlier, which featured a curved profile designed to hug the sitter.

Architect Arne Jacobsen, designer of the original Egg chair, sitting in front of photographs of his work.
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According to design brand Fritz Hansen, Jacobsen first sculpted the Egg's elliptical wingback form using wire and plaster before crafting the chair from polyurethane foam, then a brand new material with which midcentury designers were experimenting. Because it's simultaneously spongy and sturdy, it's a prime chair material for comfort, which is further accentuated by the Egg's rounded shape.

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Eventually, the chair was trademarked, which is why Jacobsen's Egg is the official egg-shaped chair.

How much is an Egg chair worth?

Jacobsen produced a few dozen Eggs for the SAS Royal Hotel, and those original pieces can be worth up to $20,000, according to 1stDibs. But the original manufacturer, Fritz Hansen, did produce the Egg chair on a large scale in the beginning, so later editions are likely valued far lower. In fact, Fritz Hansen still makes and sells official Egg chairs today, with a starting price around $8,223.

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What other kinds of egg chairs are there?

About ten years after the Egg chair made its debut, Danish designer Henrik Thor-Larsen designed his own egg chair, dubbed the Ovalia Egg Chair, which bears more of a resemblance to Finnish designer Eero Aarnio's Ball Chair than Jacobsen's Egg. The Ovalia is the egg-shaped chair from ​Men in Black —​ although, funnily enough, Jacobsen's Egg was also used in the film as the desk chair of Zed, played by Rip Torn. (The OG Egg was also used in 2001's ​Zoolander​ — Jacobim Mugatu, played by Will Ferrell, sits in one during the "foamy latte" scene.)

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There's also Danish designer Nanna Ditzel's Hanging Egg Chair, developed in 1959, in which the ovoid shape of the chair is woven from wicker and suspended in mid-air.

Nanna Ditzel's Hanging Egg Chair.
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As things go in the design world, later designers have riffed on Jacobsen's Egg, Thor-Larsen's Ovalia Egg Chair, and Ditzel's Hanging Egg Chair, leading to the proliferation of more affordable mass-market versions.

No matter which chair you go with, you're guaranteed to be making an egg-cellent decision (we're so sorry, we had to).

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