Finnish, 1898 - 1976
The main figure of Finnish modern design, Alvar Aalto opened his firm in Jyväskylä, his hometown, after graduating in architecture in 1921. Enthusiastic about organic architecture, he aimed for his creations to be harmonious with their environment. Unlike most leading Western European designers at the end of the 1920s, his renown is based on his work on wood. Inspired from the forests of his native country, he privileged wood over glass and metal, considering that they conveyed coldness, and prefered developing soft curves rather than straight geometrical lines. He experimented with ways of bending and shaping wood until he became famous for his Paimio chair, also known as the scroll chair, whose seat was made of a single piece of undulating bent plywood that appeared to float in the frame.
Natural, smooth and fluid forms, asymmetrical designs with subtle articulations, while rational and practical were innovative characteristics that brought him international recognition, culminating with the success of his Finnish pavilions for the Paris Universal Exhibition (1937) and New York World’s Fair (1939). His designs for stacking stools, chairs, tables, and other furnishings continue to be manufactured by Artek, a company founded by Alvar Aalto and his wife in 1935, to distribute the furniture and promote modern art and design through exhibitions.