Your Favorite Designers at Home: The Heralded Alvar Aalto's Unassuming Helsinki Abode

Your Favorite Designers at Home: The Heralded Alvar Aalto's Unassuming Helsinki Abode

Nancy Mitchell
Feb 19, 2017
(Image credit: Port)

Alvar Aalto, the Finnish architect and designer of the ubiquitous 3-legged stool (that spawned a perhaps even more ubiquitous IKEA knockoff), was also the creator of a lovely, very modern and yet very cozy, home on the outskirts of Helsinki. Often, the homes designers create for themselves tend toward the grandiose, but this one could be appropriately classified as humble, even subtle. In its melding of private and public spaces, indoors and out, it reflects the very best of what modern architecture can be.

(Image credit: OEN)

In 1935, Aalto purchased a piece of land outside Helsinki and began building his house and studio, a live/work space that embodied, on a large scale, the same simplicity and warmth he brought to his designs. The main living spaces were located on the first floor, with the bedrooms on the second; an L-shaped wing was devoted to the studio, with a second-level gallery above.

The two-story studio space.
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy )
A brightly lit corner of the studio.
(Image credit: Life in Sketch)

Sliding doors between the living room and studio space enabled the private and public parts of the home to connect to one another. The studio (seen above via Life in Sketch) served as Aalto's architectural office for 20 years, until his practice outgrew the space and he moved to a new, larger office a short distance away.

Sliding doors in the living room reveal the studio beyond.
(Image credit: Port)
(Image credit: Cate St. Hill)
Most of the designs in the home are Aalto's own, but the chairs in the dining room are a purchase Aalto made on his honeymoon.
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy )

Scattered throughout the home are familiar Aalto designs, gifts from his designer friends (including a painting by Le Corbusier), and prototypes of pieces that never made it to market. The house functions as a sort of showroom for Aalto's designs, but it is, first and foremost, a warm and unassuming family home.

The first floor.
(Image credit: Urbipedia)
The home's second floor. The space in the middle is an outdoor terrace.
(Image credit: Urbipedia)

To read more, and see many more photos of the home, check out:

Inside Finnish Designer Alvar Aalto's Home from OEN

Aalto's House, Riihitie, Helsinki from Cate St. Hill

Design Guide: Alvar Aalto's Helsinki from Port

Casa Aalto on Urbipedia

The Aalto Family Home, Studio & Laboratory from Apartment Therapy

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