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Alvar Aalto

Recognised today as one of the great masters of modern architecture, Alvar Aalto (1898-1976) was born in Kuortane, Finland. During a long and prolific career, Aalto designed buildings for almost all key public institutions, as well as standardised housing and private homes. One of the co-founders of Artek, Aalto left a legacy with lasting resonance.

Aalto’s architecture is distinctively Finnish, strongly individual, and marked by a warm humanity. His buildings derive their aesthetic character from their dynamic relationship with their natural surroundings, their human scale, superbly executed details, unique treatment of materials, and ingenious use of lighting.

Aalto began designing furnishings as a natural extension of his architectural thinking. His first modern piece of furniture was created in 1931-32 for the tuberculosis sanatorium in Paimio, Finland. Artek was set up in 1935 to market and sell his and his wife Aino’s furniture, lighting, and textiles, particularly on international markets.

Through his innovations in form and line, Alvar Aalto’s name has also become important in the history of design. In fact, Aalto first achieved fame in Continental Europe as a furniture designer, and only later as an architect. His contribution to furniture design was among his foremost achievements in its own right. Aalto’s furniture and lighting form the heart of the Artek range.