Alvar Aalto Paimio Chair

Paimio Arm Chair by Alvar Aalto 1929

Modern Furniture Profile

Alvar Aalto won a competition to be the Architect, Interior Designer and Furniture Designer for the Paimio Tuberculosis Sanatorium in 1928.

He succeeded in creating a sensitive environment for the patients to recuperate.

Paimio Arm Chair - Alvar Aalto

His thought in positioning for the sun, selection of soothing materials which reduced Hospital “clatter” noise made a cheerful environment for both staff and patients.

He continued those philosophies to design the furniture, especially the Paimio Arm Chair. The TB patient’s breathing was considered with the 110 degree angle of the chair back, the front curve of the arm made it easy to grip for getting in and out of.

The timber surface was easily cleaned. The use of timber creating warmth negated the coldness of institutions

The Paimio Chair is constructed from both two dimensional molded plywood and laminated timber. The curves are made by clamping layers of veneer and glue over a form to achieve the desired curved shapes.

A straight laminated timber crossbar in the upper back stabilized the framework. The continuous curves of the chair seat and back resembled a coil spring – this provided extra resilience to the plywood design.

There were air vents in the upper part of the chair lent itself to the shape of a scroll – the Paimio Chair was often referred to as the Scroll Chair.

The form of the chair is similar in concept to Marcel Breuer’s Wassily Chair, apart from the scrolls and materials.

About the Designer – Read more about how this designer evolved and how his use of steam bent timber changed ideas on furniture design.

Further Resources on the Designer -related books and additional web sites

More Alvar Aalto Furniture Profiles Here


406 Armchair

Stylish cantilevered steam bent timber design with interlaced woven cotton seat and backing.

Serving Cart - Alvar Aalto
Serving Cart – Alvar Aalto

Designed as a hospital trolley, this wooden cart was quieter and more visually hospitable in the sometimes cold and sterile environment of a hospital.

Viipuri Stacking Stools - Alvar Aalto

Viipuri Stacking Stools – Alvar Aalto

Fun design with great usability options, stacking means you can fill up a space with seats quickly and store them with ease.

Cantilevered Chair no 31 - Alvar Aalto

Cantilevered Chair no 31 – Alvar Aalto

Continuous cantilevered frame, this chair was made from laminated steam bend Birch timber.

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