Ron Arad’s Big Easy Armchair is one of those seminal pieces that puts modern design trends under the scope. First conceived of in 1988 as a sculptural piece made of coarse and roughly welded sheet-steel, the “Big Easy” was initially easy on the eyes but not on the butt, back, or legs (nor on the wallet, as it turned out). More of an art installation or a museum piece than a functional chair, the original Big Easy commanded the price of great art—upwards.
But notwithstanding Arad’s appreciation for the design/art world’s approbation of his talent, under Arad (and manufacturing titans Vitra and Moroso), the chair has metamorphosed over the past 20 years with an eye to functionality and consumer use. Among these multiple incarnations are the colorful smooth lacquered versions of the early 90s; a number in rotationally moulded recyclable coloured polyethylene—suitable for outdoor use; and the “Big E” edition in inviting plush upholstery. These, in additon to the multiple museum quality special editions (notably, one modeled on the aesthetic of the original Big Easy), have given the chair quite a pedigree.