Classic Brands: Artek

Finnish furniture company Artek got its start with design icon Alvar Aalto. The company, founded in 1935, consisted of four young Finns led by Aalto. Together they built a brand centered around aesthetically pleasing, high quality furniture that focused on modernism, clean lines and functionality. That modernistic spirit could be seen in all of Aalto's pieces: furniture, lamps, and textiles as well as home accessories such as coat racks and umbrella holders.

Shown above, from left to right:

Alvar Aalto Tea Trolley: A modern classic in birch with either a black or white top, the Tea Trolley, designed in 1936, is a timeless piece.

Alvar Aalto Paimio Armchair: Though inspired by Marcel Breuer's tubular-steel Wassily Chair, the Paimio is a classic in its own right. Its addition to modernist furniture of the 1930s is solidified by its presence at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. From the MOMA catalogue:

The Paimio Chair, the best-known piece of furniture designed by Aalto, is named for the town in southwestern Finland for which Aalto designed a tuberculosis sanatorium and all its furnishings. Used in the patients' lounge, the angle of the back of this armchair was intended to help sitters breathe more easily.

Alvar Aalto Bench: Designed a bit later (in 1945), the Aalto Bench is a multipurpose item in birch which can be used in an entry hall, as a bench or as a coffee table.

Alvar Aalto Stool: While the bent wood legs are not an uncommon design choice today, when Aalto designed this piece in the early 1930s, the technique was so new that a patent was created for the technology.

Artek Siena Pillow: An an example of more current Artek work, this graphic pillow designed in 2010 keeps the spirit of clean lines, bold design and functionality alive.

(All Images: Artek)

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