Hailing from Finland, Alvar Aalto was an architect and designer who was born in the municipality of Kuortane located in the Southwest region of Finland. From 1916 to 1921, Alvar Aalto attended the Helsinki Polytechnic Institute. During these years, Aalto was mentored by Armas Lindgren, a popular name in the Finnish National Romanticism scene.Alvar Aalto served in militia after the Russian Revolution. Alvar Aalto established his first practice in Jyvaskyla, Finland. This city has more architectural designs created by Aalto than any other city in the world.In 1927, Alvar Aalto teamed up with Erik Bryggamn, another former student of Lindgren’s, to create the design that represented the Turku Fair for the year 1929. Alvar Aalto’s influences when it comes to his designs run the gamut from classicism, to Gunnar Asplund to Ragnar Ostberg to Northern Italy to austerity to Palladian. Aalto used both details and simplicity in executing his designs. The simplicity was important for Aalto when creating wooden designs. It was important for Aalto to display aspects of Finnish culture in his work. Alvar Aalto’s designing style changed numerous times during his fifty plus year career. First, he adopted the traits expressed by Nordic Classicism with its simple, structural, and urban style. Later on, Alvar Aalto picked up on a modern version of the International Style that eschewed embellishments in architectural displays and focused on maintaining balance and volume. This was also known as “functionalism.” Alvar Aalto developed a style that could be described as experimental, romantic and picturesque during the 1930s. Harry and Marie Gullichsen who were a wealthy industrial couple were responsible for giving Aalto commissions all over Finland to create unusual pieces of architecture. During his twilight years, Alvar Aalto began working on a fourth type of style that is often described a monumentalism. This style conveyed power and a commanding presence regarding the design of the buildings created my Aalto at this time. One such building is the Finlandia Concert Hall.The two buildings that put Alvar Aalto on the map in regards to prominence in the architecture scene were the Paimio Sanatorium and the Viipuri Library. The famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright once described Alvar Aalto’s conception of the Finnish Pavilion as a “work of genius.”Alvar Aalto married a fellow architect, Aino Marsio . Aino died in 1949.
Alvar Aalto ttended the 1929 meeting of Les Congres Internationaux d’Architecture Moderne (CIAM).
Artek was the business that created and promoted Alvat Aalto’s creations from furniture to textiles and fabrics to glassware.
The Baker House, which is located on the campus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Massachusetts was created by Alvar Aalto.
Alvar Aalto’s last architectural project before his death was the Mount Angel Abbey Library located in Mount Angel, Oregon. It was finished in 1970.
• The Savoy Vase. This glassware design is an unconventional looking vase that appears as if four simple drinking glasses have been melded into one misshapen glass. It comes in a variety of colors and sizes.
• The Stool 60. Constructed from birch, this three-legged stool is designed with the most minimal of aesthetics. Its legs have a small bend near the seat that is shaped like the letter “L”. The style that Aalto incorporated into this design is a part of the Functionalist Movement.
• The Paimio Armchair 41. This chair was designed for the Paimio Sanatorium medical building. The design focuses on curvature with the thin, plywood seat and back of the chair curving into the shape of a scroll. The frames that hold the seat are molded into a polygonal shape where the back, bottom, and top of the frames are rectangular in appearance, and the front of the frames bend inwards.
• The Beehive Ceiling Lamp. This lamp consists of several layers of matte white steel. There are also shiny accents made from brass or chrome underneath each matte layer. It was conceived in the 1950s during Aalto’s “experimental” phase in his career.
• The Tea Cart 900. At the Paris World Fair in the year 1937, Aalto showcased a teacart that captured the attention and hearts of the attendants. The cart consists of a small basket weaved from the finest cane, a large tray designed with ceramic tiles covering the surface, and smooth, lightweight plastic wheels.
• The Chair 611. As a representation of the modernist style, this chair was one of the first furniture pieces designed by Aalto. The back and seat of the chair are held together with a linen fabric that is webbed appearance. The legs and frames that hold the webbed linen together are crafted from the finest birch.
• The Pendant Ceiling Lamp. This is a minimally designed ceiling light that is cylindrical in appearance. There are two cylinders: one long and narrow cylinder that makes up the top portion of the lamp, and one short and wide cylinder that is the lamp’s bottom. It comes in both black and while and is made from aluminum and brass.
• Aalto Stainless Steel Bowl. A 7-inch bowl that is designed with Aalto’s trademark curvature. It is shaped with four wavy sides that sink down to a flat bottom to give the bowl a basin-like appearance.
• The 66 High Back Chair. This is a chair intended for dinner tables. Made of smooth birch, the back of the chair is rectangular with rounded corners at the top. There is a space carved out of the bottom of the back to ensure comfort. The seat is circular and cushioned. The front legs of the chair are placed at 90 degree angles while the rear legs are slightly arched back.
• The Large Pedestal Table. The table is held up by only one leg. A chrome, black, or white linoleum base, supports this leg. The top of the table is simply circular in appearance and constructed from lightly colored birch.