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Alvar Aalto


Alvar Aalto, the famous Finnish designer and architect, was completely focused on traditional wooden furniture, refusing to use industrial parts and materials such as tubular steel and glass for furniture elements. One of the reasons for this was that he came from a small town in West Finland, where there was a lot of woodworking in his youth. While his Scandinavian contemporaries made great efforts to produce tubular steel seating furniture, Aalto developed a completely new wood bending process, which also made it possible to design with tight curve radii - the glued laminated timber/ bentwood process. With the "Paimio" chair made in this way, Aalto made design history and became world famous. Handcrafted from multi-layered Finnish birch wood, the organic side view already indicates the practical seating position. With his worldwide success he visited the Paris Furniture Exhibition in 1937 and the New York World Exhibition in 1939. In 1957 he was awarded the gold medal of the "Royal Institute of British Architects" and in 1972 the "Grande Medaille d'Or d l'Academie d'Architecture" in Paris.


his famous Paimio chair

His designs were always organically conceived and adapted to the human posture. The sitting position and position of armrests e.g. had to be adapted to human needs.

Alvar Aalto was also economically very successful. He opened his own architect's office at the age of 25 and was involved in the construction of several large buildings, which were characterised by their functionalist style and which always fitted in well with the landscape and surroundings. In 1929 he set up a new plywood factory for his designer furniture, and in 1935 he founded the "Artek" furniture company with its own furniture exhibition. Thus he was designer, manufacturer and sales manager at the same time and could determine his own collection. These very successful pieces of furniture naturally included his "Paimio chair" (1929), the "Viipuri" furniture collection (from 1933), a serving trolley (1936), the cantilever chair as an armchair (1946) and the "Fan leg stool" (1954). In addition to seating furniture, he also designed textiles and some furnishing elements, including his wave-shaped glass vase "Savoyen".

Hugo Alvar Henrik Aalto was born in 1898 in the small West Finnish town of Kuortane. At the age of 18 he went to Helsinki to study at the Technical University, the only place in the country where architecture could be studied. His life's work as an architect as well as a designer had a decisive influence on Scandinavian design, especially in the later phase of his work after the war. From then on, he was honoured as the creator of organic design. He received honorary doctorates at 8 universities, including renowned faculties such as Princeton USA, Columbia NY and the TH Zurich. From 1946 to 1948 he was himself a professor at the world-famous "MIT" in Cambridge, USA. He died in the Finnish capital in 1976.