Here I want to continue my talk about Alvar Aalto. Last time I talked about his masterpiece Savoy Vase but now I will focus on his furniture design. Alvar Aalto and his wife Aino Aalto founded 1939 furniture company called Artek (Art + Technology) with visual arts promoter Maire Gullichsen and art historian Nils-Gustav Hahl.
Their business strategy was “to sell furniture and to promote a modern culture of living by exhibitions and other educational means”
Nowadays the Artek’s collection includes furniture, lighting and accessories by Alvar Aalto, Ilmari Tapiovaara, Tapio Wirkkala, Eero Aarnio and Yrjö Kukkapuro, which all are Finnish designers. But the base of the company comes from Alvar Aalto’s bent wood experiments that resulted in the L-leg system. The L-leg, a solid wood leg with a laminated part which bends 90 degrees was patented in 1933 and it became a standard component of Aalto’s furniture designs. The design is simple so the furniture are quite versatile and fits various projects. So you can find these furniture in different kind of spaces like schools, public areas, museums, restaurants, private homes etc.
The best known Aalto’s furniture is the Paimio Chair from 1931, which is made of birch wood, playing with the limits of plywood manufacturing. Originally the chair was designed for tuberculosis patients to sit long times during the day. Angle of the back was designed that patients could breath better. You can find this chair in permanent collections in Museum of modern art (MoMa), New York and in Finnish Design Museum, Helsinki.
Why it came a classic?
- You can’t tell in which year it is designed – timeless
- Use of the bent wood
- Simple form and pure strong structure which is still light to move around
- And as a simple it is, the chair is comfortable to sit
Other piece that can be mentioned is the 60 stool designed in 1933 which was also a revolutionary piece by that time with its L-leg design which I mentioned earlier.
As we can see, Alvar Aalto wasn’t really a fan of straight corners which was actually based on his thinking of dynamic relationship with natural surroundings. “Form must have a content, and that content must be linked with nature.”
If you are interested in to find out more about Alvar Aalto’s design, have a look here: