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Alvar Aalto

Finland (1898–1976)

Finnish icon Alvar Aalto helped popu­lar­ize organic forms, natural mate­ri­als, and intu­itive func­tion­al­ity in archi­tec­ture and design. His travels through­out Europe with his wife Aino Marsio in the 1920’s and 1930’s exposed him to modernism, a style in which he ulti­mately left a lasting impact.

Design­ing resi­dences and public build­ings, Aalto treated each struc­ture as a work of art. He designed every­thing inside, includ­ing the furni­ture and light­ing. His furni­ture work, always both aesthet­i­cally appeal­ing and remark­ably user-friendly, came to take on a life of its own. Artek was founded in 1935 to produce and market Aalto’s designs. 

Aalto came to be asso­ci­ated with his pref­er­ence for and exper­i­men­ta­tion in wood, a mate­r­ial that was profuse in Finland. His famous Paimio chair features a seat made of a single piece of undu­lat­ing bent plywood. Aalto also produced work in glass; his curvi­lin­ear vases for Iittala are an icon. Aalto’s designs for stack­ing stools, chairs, tables, and more continue to be manu­fac­tured by Artek.


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