Skip to main content

Alvar Aalto

Finnish, 1898-1976

An architect and designer, Alvar Aalto deserves an immense share of the credit for bringing Scandinavian modernism and Nordic design to a prominent place in the global arena. In both his buildings and his vintage furniture — which ranges from chairs, stools, tables and lighting to table- and glassware — Aalto’s sensitivity to the natural world and to organic forms and materials tempered the hardness of rationalist design.

Relatively few Aalto buildings exist outside Finland. (Just four exist in the United States, and only one — the sinuous 1945 Baker House dormitory at M.I.T. — is easily visited.) International attention came to Aalto, whose surname translates to English as “wave,” primarily through his furnishings.

Instead of the tubular metal framing favored by the Bauhaus designers and Le Corbusier, Aalto insisted on wood. His aesthetic is best represented by the Paimio armchair, developed with his wife, Aino Aalto, in 1930 as part of the overall design of a Finnish tuberculosis sanatorium.

Comfortable, yet light enough to be easily moved by patients, the Paimio chair’s frame is composed of two laminated birch loops; the seat and back are formed from a single sheet of plywood that scrolls under the headrest and beneath the knees, creating a sort of pillow effect. Aalto’s use of plywood had an enormous influence on Charles and Ray Eames, Arne Jacobsen, Marcel Breuer and others who later came to the material.

Concerned with keeping up standards of quality in the production of his designs, Aalto formed the still-extant company Artek in 1935, along with Aino, whose glass designs were made by the firm. In the latter medium, in 1936 the Aaltos together created the iconic, undulating Savoy vase, so-called for the luxe Helsinki restaurant for which the piece was designed.

Artek also produced Aalto pendants and other lighting designs, many of which — such as the Angel’s Wing floor lamp and the Beehive pendant — incorporate a signature Aalto detail: shades made of concentric enameled-metal rings graduated down in diameter. The effect of the technique is essential Alvar Aalto: at once precise, simple, and somehow poetic.

Find a collection of vintage Alvar Aalto stools, vases, dining tables and other furniture on 1stDibs.

Iconic Designs from Alvar Aalto
Explore timeless pieces that have earned their place in history.
Alvar Aalto Stool 60
Alvar Aalto Stool 60
Alvar Aalto Wall Shelf 112b
Alvar Aalto Wall Shelf 112b
Alvar Aalto Savoy Vase
Alvar Aalto Savoy Vase
Alvar Aalto Tea Cart 900
Alvar Aalto Tea Cart 900
Set of 2 wooden chairs 66 model by Alvar Aalto for Artek  60's
By Artek, Alvar Aalto
Located in Padova, IT
The unmistakable Chair 66 by Artek is a chair with a classic and versatile design, designed in 1935 by the brilliant Finnish designer Alvar Aalto. Appreciated for its simple and univ...
Category

1960s Finnish Mid-Century Modern Vintage Alvar Aalto

Materials

Birch

Alvar Aalto for Valaistustyö Ky ‘A704’ Table Lamp in Leather
By Alvar Aalto, Valaistustyö
Located in Waalwijk, NL
Alvar Aalto for Valaistustyö Ky, desk lamp, model ‘A704’, enameled steel, enameled aluminum, leather-bound metal, Finland, 1954 This table lamp model ‘A704’ is designed by Finnish...
Category

1950s Finnish Scandinavian Modern Vintage Alvar Aalto

Materials

Metal, Enamel

Alvar Aalto Table Model 81B, Red Linoleum surface.
By Huonekalu-Ja Rakennustyötedas Oy, Alvar Aalto, Artek
Located in Helsinki, FI
Alvar Aalto rectangular L-leg table in red linoleum top, manufactured by Oy Huonekalu-ja Rakennustyötehdas Ab and retailed by Artek since the 1930s. Alvar Aalto designs are famous ...
Category

1960s Finnish Scandinavian Modern Vintage Alvar Aalto

Materials

Birch

Very Rare Artek A808 Floor Lamp by Alvar Aalto, Made in Finland
By Alvar Aalto
Located in Turku, FI
Chrome Plated version of artek a808 floor lamp. This color combination has never been in serial production. Only a few pieces made to order. Product inf...
Category

Mid-20th Century Finnish Mid-Century Modern Alvar Aalto

Materials

Steel, Chrome

Alvar Aalto Pair of Artek Cantilever Armchairs Model 402, 1950s
By Artek, Huonekalu-Ja Rakennustyötedas Oy, Alvar Aalto
Located in Helsinki, FI
A beautiful pair of mid-century Alvar Aalto cantilever 'spring' chairs model 402, also known as Pikkupaimio (small paimio) associated with the legendary Paimio Sanatorium designed by Aalto. The chairs are lightweight and can be situated practically in any room or interior, and are easily moved around due to their lightness, both in weight and in appearance. The chairs have beautiful patina and are reupholstered in black premium fabric. Both chairs are stamped "Artek Aalto design Made in Finland...
Category

1950s Finnish Scandinavian Modern Vintage Alvar Aalto

Materials

Metal

Stool model 60, Alvar Aalto, Oy Huonekalu- ja Rakennustyötehdas Ab, 1930s
By Alvar Aalto, Oy Huonekalu-ja Rakennustyötehdas Ab
Located in Helsinki, FI
Stool model 60 designed by Alvar Aalto for Oy Huonekalu- ja Rakennustyötehdas Ab from the 1930s. Birch. Good vintage condition, patina and wear consistent with age and use. Iconic Al...
Category

1930s Finnish Scandinavian Modern Vintage Alvar Aalto

Materials

Birch

Alvar Aalto Pair of Artek Cantilever Armchairs Model 401, 1950s
By Huonekalu-Ja Rakennustyötedas Oy, Artek, Alvar Aalto
Located in Helsinki, FI
A beautiful pair of mid-century Alvar Aalto cantilever 'spring' chairs model 401. This chair is similar to the iconic one known as Pikkupaimio (small paimio) but with a higher back a...
Category

1950s Finnish Scandinavian Modern Vintage Alvar Aalto

Materials

Metal

Alvar Aalto foldable table In Blue Linoleum, Artek 1950s
By Alvar Aalto
Located in Helsinki, FI
Alvar Aalto foldable table in birch with beautiful blue linoleum surface, designed by Alvar Aalto and manufactured by Artek in the 1950s. The materials used by Artek were very duarbl...
Category

1950s Finnish Mid-Century Modern Vintage Alvar Aalto

Materials

Birch

Browse all Furniture from Alvar Aalto
Shop Now

Creators Similar to Alvar Aalto

More Alvar Aalto Designs
Alvar Aalto Stool 60
Alvar Aalto Stool 60
Average Price
$2,294
Number Available
33
Alvar Aalto Stool 60
By Alvar Aalto
Materials
Wood, Birch
Styles
Scandinavian Modern, Mid Century Modern
Although Finnish architect and furniture maker Alvar Aalto (1898–1976) was recognized early in his career for his decorative interiors and innovative building concepts, his functional wood furniture reflected a simplicity that extended even to his marketing copy. “One chair is enough” is one such slogan attributed to him today. While the renowned designs he produced with his first wife Aino for a tuberculosis sanatorium in Paimio included tubular steel, Aalto eventually distanced himself from...
Shop All
Alvar Aalto Wall Shelf 112b
Alvar Aalto Wall Shelf 112b
Average Price
$4,726
Number Available
15
Alvar Aalto Wall Shelf 112b
By Alvar Aalto
Materials
Wood, Birch
Styles
Scandinavian Modern, Mid Century Modern
Shop All
Alvar Aalto Savoy Vase
Alvar Aalto Savoy Vase
Average Price
$1,547
Number Available
14
Alvar Aalto Savoy Vase
By Alvar Aalto
Materials
Glass, Blown Glass
Styles
Mid Century Modern
When Finnish architect and designer Alvar Aalto (1898–1976) designed the curvilinear Savoy vase in 1936 for the eponymous luxurious restaurant in Helsinki set to open the following year, he created one of the most well-known glass objects of the 20th century.  The Savoy vase — commonly referred to as the “Aalto vase” — won first prize at 1936’s Karhula-Iittala Glass Design Competition, held to determine which works would be included in the Finnish Pavilion at the 1937 Paris World Expo. This ...
Shop All
Alvar Aalto Tea Cart 900
Alvar Aalto Tea Cart 900
Average Price
$10,677
Number Available
9
Alvar Aalto Tea Cart 900
By Alvar Aalto
Materials
Wood, Birch, Ceramic, Natural Fiber, Rattan
Styles
Scandinavian Modern, Mid Century Modern
Making its international debut at the 1937 Paris World Exhibition, the Tea Trolley 900 encapsulates Finnish architect and designer Alvar Aalto's (1898–1976) influential approach to modernism through its emphasis on local materials and elegant pragmatism. A modern take on the traditional British tea cart, it is a versatile domestic object: It can be rolled up for dinner, tucked away in a corner for housing odds and ends or presented as a striking centerpiece. With a ceramic tile serving tray, ...
Shop All

Alvar Aalto furniture for sale on 1stDibs.

Alvar Aalto furniture are available for sale on 1stDibs. These distinctive items are frequently made of wood and are designed with extraordinary care. There are many options to choose from in our collection of Alvar Aalto furniture, although brown editions of this piece are particularly popular. We have 448 vintage editions of these items in-stock, while there is 8 modern edition to choose from as well. Many of the original furniture by Alvar Aalto were created in the Scandinavian Modern style in europe during the 20th century. If you’re looking for additional options, many customers also consider furniture by Ilmari Tapiovaara, Oy Stockmann AB, and Yrjö Kukkapuro. Prices for Alvar Aalto furniture can differ depending upon size, time period and other attributes — on 1stDibs, these items begin at $113 and can go as high as $80,707, while a piece like these, on average, fetch $3,662.
Questions About Alvar Aalto
  • 1stDibs ExpertFebruary 1, 2024
    Alvar Aalto is known for bringing Scandinavian modernism and Nordic design to global prominence. In his designs for buildings and furniture, Aalto's sensitivity to the natural world and to organic forms and materials tempered the hardness of rationalist design. One of his most famous pieces is the Paimio armchair, which he designed in 1930 for a Finnish tuberculosis sanatorium. Comfortable yet light enough to be easily moved by patients, the Paimio chair's frame is made of two laminated birch loops. The seat and back are formed from a single sheet of plywood that scrolls under the headrest and beneath the knees, creating a pillow effect. Aalto's use of plywood had an enormous influence on Charles and Ray Eames, Arne Jacobsen, Marcel Breuer and many others. On 1stDibs, shop an assortment of Alvar Aalto furniture.
  • 1stDibs ExpertFebruary 13, 2024
    The style most commonly associated with Alvar Aalto is Scandinavian modern. As an architect and designer, Aalto deserves an immense share of the credit for bringing Scandinavian modernism and Nordic design to a prominent place in the global arena. In both his buildings and his vintage furniture, Aalto's sensitivity to the natural world and organic forms and materials tempered the hardness of rationalist design, as is indicative of Scandinavian modern pieces. On 1stDibs, shop a collection of Alvar Aalto furniture.
  • 1stDibs ExpertApril 5, 2024
    The Paimio chair, designed by Alvar Aalto, is a type of armchair created in 1932. Also called the Armchair 41, it was intended to help people breathe easier and was designed for a tuberculosis sanatorium in the Finnish city of Paimio. For the chair's frame, Aalto and his wife, Aino, opted to use Finland's native birchwood, which is strong and inexpensive and felt warmer and more organic than the tubular steel found in similarly shaped pieces. Laminated wood loops form the arms, legs and a pair of flat skids, while its sculptural seat and back are built from a single piece of thin plywood. Shop a variety of Alvar Aalto Paimio chairs on 1stDibs.

Recently Viewed

View All