You Can’t Keep the Virén Chair Down

It’s been said that it’s hard to keep a good man down, and now the same goes for a chair. Nordic recycled plastic compounds brand Fortum’s Virén Chair will not stay down when it falls! The self-rising chair is made of recycled post-consumer plastic waste, showcasing the possibilities of using Fortum Circo® recycled plastic. (See it in action here!)

The self-rising design of this piece of furniture is where Finnish design meets applied physics. Based on CAD simulations, Virén’s unique design, weight, geometry, and rising arm shape all force the chair to raise itself after a fall. The main key is the point of its center of gravity in relation to its geometry. The chair was developed with professionals – from engineers to physicists to researchers. Fortum’s creative partner behind Virén is TBWA\Helsinki, and the prototype was 3D printed with Maker3D.

black chair sitting outside in shade

The Virén Chair is inspired by Lasse Virén, a Finnish long-distance runner who fell in the middle of the 10,000-meter final in the Munich Olympics. The odds weren’t in his favor, but he got up, won gold, and set a new world record.

“Honoring the running legend Lasse Virén was very present at all stages of our design process. We wanted the chair to reflect his legacy with a design that is both aerodynamic and organic, and takes its inspiration from running motion. When taking a closer look at the chair, and more specifically the legs, one can distinguish a form of a runner preparing to take off from the starting line,” explains Umberto Onza, Lead Designer from TBWA\Helsinki.

black armchair tipping backwards

“Our ambition was to honor comebacks, progression, and resilience through the Virén Chair, and to show what can be achieved with recycled plastics today. Furthermore, the Virén Chair pays respect to Finnish design with characteristics of plastic furniture developed in the 1960s by Finnish designers,” says Jussi Mälkiä, Brand Manager at Fortum.

Fortum hopes to expand the use of recycled plastics by developing its recycled plastic compounds. In this process, the qualities of the recycled plastic are enhanced so the compounds can be used for products that are more technical and challenging in terms of production. The Virén Chair is a good example.

four armchairs lined up with their backs to the camera

light-skinned man standing next to black armchair in front of black and white image of a man projected on the wall behind him

Lasse Virén

detail of black armchair on green background

To learn more about the Virén Chair, visit

Kelly Beall is Director of Branded Content at Design Milk. The Pittsburgh-based writer and designer has had a deep love of art and design for as long as she can remember, from Fashion Plates to MoMA and far beyond. When not searching out the visual arts, she's likely sharing her favorite finds with others. Kelly can also be found tracking down new music, teaching herself to play the ukulele, or on the couch with her three pets – Bebe, Rainey, and Remy. Find her @designcrush on social.