28 January 2009

In memory of the stereo chair.

I was at some friends' house yesterday, and in their salvaged junk-filled garage was a 1970s stereo egg chair. I've never actually seen one in person, so when I laid eyes on it I turned into an absolutely giddy little kid. I've always loved the stereo chair, but never took the time to read up on it.

So here's a little bit about the evolution of one the greatest chairs EVER. And some photos, of course!

It all started with Eero Aarnio's 1966 Ball Chair. He wanted to create a "room within a room."

This photo captures Charly Stendig sitting in the ball chair.

Aarnio even installed a red telephone in the prototype of the Ball Chair that was presented at the 1966 International Furniture Fair in Cologne.

left: Aarnio in his prototype with the red phone.
right: the 1966 Internation Furniture Fair.

In 1968 Aarnio created the acrylic ball chair, better known as the Bubble Chair. It hangs from the ceiling because the designer didn't like the way clear pedestals looked.

left: the Informational Lounge at Frankfurt Airport.
right: Aarnio's daughters.

Next came Henrik Thor-Larsen's Ovalia Chair, which was exhibited at the 1968 Scandinavian Furniture Fair. These egg-shaped chairs were sold until 1978.

Reproductions of the Ovalia chair, especially in America, would lead to the stereo-wired chair.

This is the AlphaChamber chair by Lee West. I can't really find any info on this, except the occasional mention in a blog or item in an auction. (The chair in the following photo is being auctioned...click the photo to see!). I am guessing it's from the early 1970s.

Another great stereo chair is the Egg Sound Chair from Starkey Laboratories that was made in 1976. And again, it is impossible to find any photos of it anywhere! I suppose that as the reproductions of these chairs got so vast in the 1970s (and even today with companies like inmod).

Here's the thing--the real ones are out there, and in searching the web for this post, I've come across numerous Craigslist posts and auctions of the real things. How cool would it be to have one of these incredible chairs to sit back in!? Keep your eyes open people. Keep 'em open.


  1. morgan, i am loving your blog! i am now a subscriber on my google reader! kudos!

  2. Hey Joy!!
    Thanks so much! When are you rappin?? I have to see this...

  3. i don't have any shows lined up at the moment, but i always post about them on facebook!

  4. Morgan, I just would like to inform you that my company owns the one of the original Starkey Lab Egg Chairs produced in the 70's.

    Although we don't have the original stereo speaker setup inside the egg, while we've enhanced it with a 5.1 Surround Sound system with a 10" sub woofer built underneath the seat due to it's original design with the pedistol cabinent.

    But, to continue on that note. My company is now producing the Egg in a whole new realm, and can be viewed from SoundEgg.com .

    Check it out, Might be a great add to your article, and if you would like some pictures of the original starkey egg, I can provide those.

  5. Hello Morgan,
    I have the original version of the Starkey Lab stereo egg chair in mint condition and ready to sell. Since it was built in the 70's the egg carton foam liner was damaged and needed to be replaced. My husband replaced the interior liner with as close a reproduction of the black liner as possible. Everything else is original. I can email you a picture of it. Would anyone know what it might be worth? Send me a request at zhooddeb@gmail.com Dragonfeather
    P.S. I sent this info yesterday under blog name HummingbirD so this is an updated comment

  6. Thoroughly enjoyed this post and thought I would link you to a photo of our Starkey Egg Chair... because, you're right, they're impossible to find! We love it.


  7. If you need a pic of the Starkey stereo chair, please let me know, as I have one...thanks!

  8. Back in 1972 I went to the Los Angeles furniture mart and saw the Lee display. I ordered the love seat stereo chair and two ottomans, I think the factory was in California. The whole thing was $300. The seats were covered in a black vinyl I believe and the walls of the chair were dark brown burlap material. I have several photos of my kids in the chair.

  9. I owned two of the Lee Stereo Chairs in 1969 or 1970 (it has been so long I forget). The first was a rust interior and cracked where the fiberglass mounted on the round metal base and was replaced by the TV Dealer I got it from. In 1969 I paid about $1,100 for it...

    When I saw it in the window of the TV store, I almost wrecked my car turning around, I had to have it. The Lee was to me more attractive than the original and more comfortable too.

    It was a great girl catcher. I could not hang on to it through graduate school it was too big to drag around.

    If you get one please note I recall you need 42" clearance to get it down a hallway. Living in San Francisco many of the older buildings have halls too narrow to get the chair into.

    I saw a gray painted shell for sale at the Alameda Point Antique Fair (Alameda, CA) a couple of years ago, it had been owned by the Air Force for pilots to relax in, with a gray shell.

    I saw one trashed on one of those cheap TV design shows for a pre teen brat who wanted to be a "hippy", the fool designer tore out the interior and replaced it with a shag carpet liner. You don't see the originals with the leather cushions or the foot stool usually.

    I wish I had space for one...

  10. Exercise ball chairs ergonomically designed to prevent the common problems of neck, shoulder and back pain, but correct size is important. Ideally, when you sit on ball chair, your knees should be level or hips should be slightly higher than the knees. This gives your body the proper alignment. The ball size depend on whether you choose chair with a rolling base or one that sits on retaining ring.

  11. I have one as well. I can't find a picture similar to the one I have though. It's covered with fabric. Professionally done. It's the loudest chair I've ever heard. It has a sub woofer under the seat and what I assume is two huge cross overs. I put an addition on Bob Hiels (sound man for the who, invented the voice box, electrical genius) home about 15 years ago and I adjusted my final bill just to take it home. In researching how much to sell it for I was intrigued as to how rare they are. When there not any on eBay that's a rare item!
    If anyone is interested or would like pictures please ask. Shawnhpace @ gmail

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  13. Good morning, I was driving my regular route near my home in Bloomington, Minnesota 4 days ago. When I spotted the Starkey Labs. Sound Egg Chair sitting along the street. Needless to say I pulled over. The person selling the Acoustic Egg Chair father worked at Starkey Labs in the 70's. The father now passed away gave the chairs to his son. His son did not want the Egg chair and now I have this unbelievable chair at my home. The acoustic sound of ones voice once your sitting inside this eco chamber is not describable. I started to speak to my friend and my voice inside the egg became stereo inside. It blew my mind. Everything works as well as the sound system was perfect. This came with original paperwork from Starky Labs. also. I am looking to sell contact greatmallincjr@yahoo.com This chair is so rare you cannot find on ebay or any other site. TAKE CARE, I AM THE LUCKY ONE.

  14. I have an egg chair from 1972 and it is the exact double of the stereo egg chair in the movie dazed and confused it has a reading light in the top and speakers on each side also it has the ottoman the chair is white and the inside is dark brown furry type cloth and the inside is removable and unzippable it is totally original except for speakers I am interested in selling it and have pictures of the chair inside and out

  15. I have two lee west classic stereo alpha chairs..Have no idea what they are worth but I need money....make an offer dcole2468@yahoo.com. thanks

  16. I've got an original..no upholstery..but its a starkey..makes my day to know so many people love them..

  17. I own 2 Starky Stereo Egg chairs, TWINS contact John at 651.307.6129 email; s.rj_boy@yahoo.com These are Vintage Retro they are for sale. They are outfitted with the ipod capable sound hookups.

  18. I have identical Starky Acoustic Egg Chairs (2) of these for sale. 98% perfect. These are Vintage contact s.rj_boy@yahoo.com. They have a stereo Tube amp that plugs into each unit chair. You can hook any stereo to them and are Itunes friendly. Please contact John

    1. Hi John, just wondering if you still have a stereo egg chair for sale?
      What are the colours etc?
      I'm having a real nightmare finding one like my Dads when I was little.
      Black leather interior and yellow fibreglass exterior?
      Any help would be greatly appreciated.
      Ronnie (NZ)

  19. I'm looking for a Lee west egg chair any help would be great. You can contact me at chet043@gmail.com