Here at Baola we are all about letting our Swiss ball become part of everyday life, whether that be at home or in the office. However, in order to achieve this our founder Pierre-Emmanuel’s main priority was style and functionality.
Following his back injury (read about his story here) he spent a lot of time outlining and perfecting his ideas for a flexible fabric to encase the ball. It needed to look good, continue to aid his journey of strengthening his back and be easy to care for.
We sat Pierre-Emmanuel down to get further insight into how the ball is made with such care and attention.
What was your thinking behind the look of Baola?
“My challenge was that I used a swiss ball everyday as the benefits to my back were immense. However, I struggled to find one that wasn’t an “eye-sore” so I decided to create my own. For me, it was very important that the product ended up looking almost like an “art object” rather than a plastic ball”.
“I knew I wanted to work with artists that inspired me and that could create designs that would really stand out in the home or in an office space. Therefore, I contacted Mike Lemanski, a British designer and illustrator, to help visualise what the ball could look like, and I found two textile designers in Zurich, Kim and Yael. Together we worked on the first prototype”.
How did you go about producing the Baola balls?
“When we started looking into producing Baola, sustainability and ethics were important to us from the outset. We wanted to make sure that we knew where Baola is produced and by whom. We found that producing in Europe could be a real challenge, for starters, we realised that almost all Swiss balls that you find in the stores are made in China. Also, because we produce Baola editions in limited quantities it adds complexity to the production”.
“However, we were determined to stick to our principles of ethical, sustainable production. After lots of research, we found an Italian company that has been producing Swiss balls for over 50 years and have been working with them ever since for all our products! As for the fabric cover of each Swiss ball, we are working with an artisan in the Czech Republic. It is a small company that takes great care in the printing, cutting and sewing of the cover”.
How is Baola different to what else is out there?
“I believe the main point of difference is design. The fact that we work with artists to create the designs enable anyone to have a piece of art, that is affordable. Each ball is unique and a real labour of love for design and comfort”.
“Also, the look extends beyond just the product, the packaging is of great importance too as it’s what you see first. We avoid using plastic in our packaging and focus on paper or cardboard. We only use a single plastic bag to ensure the product is protected against humidity, water and further damage during shipping however, we are thinking of ways to get rid of this as it’s part of our ethos to protect the planet as much as possible”.
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What is next for Baola?
“My vision for Baola is definitely progressive and in coming years we have a lot planned to expand the product offering. However, right here and now I’m always looking for new artists who inspire me and fit in with our ethos. We are currently working on new editions from artists in different countries to extend our design offerings, which we are currently finalising”.