Enduring classics of Modernism

Alvar Aalto Architecture

Picture: Rauno Träskelin / Visit Finland

The earliest and still working companies in the field of the applied arts were the Arabia ceramics factory (founded in 1873), and Nuutajärvi glass factory (founded in 1794).

In 1928 Riihimäen Lasi organised a glass design competition.

The winning designer, Henry Ericsson already shows the clean lines of modernism.

The work of the 1930s, from furniture and everyday wares to graphic design, was characterised by natural use of materials, unadorned surfaces, and bright primary colours.

The young architect Alvar Aalto was particularly responsive to the modern rigours of Functionalism and designed light bentwood chairs, tables and shelves that became enduring classics of Modernism.

In 1935 the Artek Company was set up in Helsinki, to produce and disseminate Aalto’s furniture, which had become popular abroad.

The company is still going strong.

Today, the Artek collection includes products by other designers as well. 

Together with his wife Aino, Alvar Aalto was also an important glass designer.

In 1932 Aino Aalto designed her Aalto glassware series, and in 1936 Alvar Aalto created his Savoy vase, by far the best-known example of Finnish design internationally.

Another modern classic by Alvar Aalto is the Artek Stool 60, a three-legged stool that has been copied endlessly.

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