Alvar Aalto – Finnish Modern Furniture Designer
Hugo Henrik Alvar Aalto 1898-1976 – Kuortane, Finland
“True architecture is only to be found where man stands in the centre“. Alvar Aalto.
He put together an experimental plywood workshop in Turku in 1929 with Otto Korhonen, and in 1935 formed a furniture company with Harry and Marie Gullichsen called Artek.
This was to manufacture his furniture and as a showplace for contemporary furniture, art, home furnishing and industrial art.
This combination of designer, manufacture and marketer created a broadly accessible collection of furniture including the Paimio Armchair 1929, the Viipuri Collection 1933-1935, the Aalto Serving Cart 1936, the Cantilevered Armchair 1946 and the Fan Leg Stool 1954.
Also in 1935 the company patented a cantilevered chair support made from timber. Aalto’s designs were held in high regard at numerous exhibitions including an exhibition of Finnish design at Fortnum & Mason 1933, the Paris 1937 exhibition and the New York 1939 World Fair.
The Royal Institute of British Architects awarded him a gold medal in 1957.
Alvar Aalto’s design concepts were organic and used the human form. His buildings and chairs were first prompted by the user. The seats and handles were moulded to the human form. Of all architectural furniture, his is the closest to humanity.
He felt that the human body should only come into contact with organic materials.
– No 31- Alvar Aalto
Alvar Aalto designed laminated timber furniture. He saw that tubular steel lacked human qualities. He used local Birch wood as a substitution for steel tubing. He concluded that standardisation and mass production could not be sustained in Finland’s small economy.
His chairs were the result of great study and investigation into, posture, laminated wood, aesthetic considerations and efficient mechanical methods of mass production. His Paimio Chair, 1930, is said to have been influenced by the curved contours of the Finnish lakes, it is one of the most elegant modern chairs.
Aalto played a major part in shaping 20th Century furniture, his work was based on the Modern Movement but he broadened this view with his sensitivity for people design, his independence and imagination.
Aalto will be remembered for humanizing the machine age.
More Alvar Aalto Resources