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TO MAY 8
When you’re posing a nude model for a photo shoot, one useful option is Eero Aarnio’s Bubble Chair, a dangling clear-plastic semisphere that offers no visual barriers. This helpful tip is implicit in the lineup of magazine covers on one side of this exhibition, including glossies from Playboy, Maxim, and Men’s World. Of course, an Aarnio chair really calls for Barbarella rather than Playboy’s choice, Carmen Electra. Finnish furniture designer Aarnio debuted in the ’60s, and his work still evokes that era. (That’s why the opaque predecessor to the Bubble Chair, the Ball Chair, is featured on the cover of Luna’s Bewitched, symbolizing Dean Wareham’s not-so-secret desire to be a contemporary rather than a follower of Lou Reed.) Aarnio’s ’60s designs are sleek, colorful, and madly in love with acrylic and fiberglass. They fit the pop-art era as ideally as they roiled Finnish design, previously known for pale wood and natural forms. A minimalist joker, Aarnio also turned to nature for such designs as the Chanterelle Table, the Pony Chair (pictured)—more evocative of a frog in the chartreuse version on display—and the Chick Chair. No, not Playboy’s kind of chick—this is a padded black form balanced on yellow chicken feet. The show includes tables and lamps, but Aarnio is always seeking new places to take a load off: There’s also the triple-sphered Tomato Chair and the bobbling, pool-worthy Pastil Chair. And, yes, you can sit on all of them. The show is on view daily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. (closed Thursday, May 5), to Sunday, May 8, at the Embassy of Finland, 3301 Massachusetts Ave. NW. Free. (202) 298-5824. (Mark Jenkins)