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Alvar Aalto

Finnish, 1898-1976

An architect and designer, Alvar Aalto deserves an immense share of the credit for bringing Scandinavian modernism to a prominent place in the global arena. In both his buildings and in his furnishings — which range from chairs, 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 furniture.

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 in 1930 as part of his overall design of a Finnish tuberculosis sanatorium. Comfortable, yet light enough to be easily moved by patients, the 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 at the headrest and beneath the knees, creating a sort of pillow effect. Aalto’s use of plywood had enormous influence on Charles 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 his wife, Aino Aalto, 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 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.

Iconic Designs from Alvar Aalto
Explore timeless pieces that have earned their place in history.
Savoy Vase
Savoy Vase
Angel Wing Floor Lamp
Angel Wing Floor Lamp
Stool 60
Stool 60
Paimio Armchair
Paimio Armchair
Alvar Aalto Artek-Pascoe 1940s Desk and Chair
By Alvar Aalto
Located in Kalamazoo, MI
Very rare early modern desk and chair designed by Alvar and Aino Aalto for their Artek-Pascoe line that launched in the USA in the 1940s. Classic bentwood and birch plywood combined ...
Category

1940s American Mid-Century Modern Vintage Alvar Aalto

Materials

Birch

Set of Two Midcentury Alvar Aalto Chairs by Artek, Model E45, Finland, 1960s
By Artek, Alvar Aalto
Located in Praha, CZ
- Rare type - Comfortable.
Category

1960s Finnish Mid-Century Modern Vintage Alvar Aalto

Materials

Leather, Fabric, Wood

Armchair 406 "Pension Chair" by Alvar Aalto for Artek
By Alvar Aalto
Located in Seattle, WA
2005 production Armchair 406 by Alvar Aalto for Artek in birch and natural webbing. This was affectionately nicknamed "Pension Chair" as it allows the user to be in a state of "retir...
Category

Early 2000s Finnish Mid-Century Modern Alvar Aalto

Materials

Birch

Artek Stool 60 Upholstered with Vintage Alexander Girard Fabric
By Alvar Aalto
Located in Meguro-ku, JP
This stool is 4 years old. The seat has been upholstered with old stock fabric designed by Alexander Girard.
Category

2010s Finnish Mid-Century Modern Alvar Aalto

Materials

Cotton, Birch

Early Shelf in Birch by Alvar Aalto for Aalto Möbler, Hedemora, Sweden
By Alvar Aalto
Located in Goteborg, SE
During the 1940´s Alvar Aalto had a production of his furniture in Hedemora, Sweden. This beautiful shelf is from that period. It comes with original wall mounts but can be mounted w...
Category

1940s Swedish Scandinavian Modern Vintage Alvar Aalto

Materials

Birch

Alvar Aalto Model 401 Lounge Chair in Bouclé Finland circa 1938 No 2
By Alvar Aalto
Located in Longdon, Tewkesbury
Alvar Aalto Model 401 lounge chair in Bouclé Finland Circa 1938 No: 2 Alvar Aalto Model 401 lounge chair Finland Circa 1938, the cantilevered birch ’S' shaped frame upholstered in...
Category

1930s Finnish Mid-Century Modern Vintage Alvar Aalto

Materials

Bouclé, Birch

Alvar Aalto Y61 Stool
By Alvar Aalto, Artek
Located in Highland, IN
Designed in 1947, Alvar Aalto's Y61 stool required a special technique to create the unique Y-leg. This vintage example was sold in the US by ICF and has a rich patina attesting to y...
Category

1940s Finnish Scandinavian Modern Vintage Alvar Aalto

Materials

Canvas, Birch

  • Alvar Aalto Y61 Stool
  • Alvar Aalto Y61 Stool
  • Alvar Aalto Y61 Stool
  • Alvar Aalto Y61 Stool
H 17.25 in. W 16 in. D 16 in.
Set of Six Midcentury Alvar Aalto Chairs by Artek, Model 45
By Alvar Aalto, Artek
Located in Lejre, DK
Set of six Alvar Aalto armchairs model no. 45 in beech and canvas. Designed in 1947 for Artek. Great original condition.
Category

1940s Finnish Mid-Century Modern Vintage Alvar Aalto

Materials

Canvas, Beech

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Alvar Aalto Furniture for sale on 1stDibs.

Alvar Aalto Furniture are available for sale on 1stDibs. These distinctive objects are often made of wood and designed with extraordinary care. In our Alvar Aalto collection, there are many options to choose from, although brown editions of this piece are particularly popular. There are 249 vintage versions of these items in stock, while there is 0 modern edition to choose from as well. Many of the original furniture by Alvar Aalto were created in Europe during the 20th century in the modern style of the mid-century. If you’re looking for additional options, many customers also consider Furniture by Aino Aalto, Carl Gustav Hiort af Ornäs and Yrjö Kukkapuro. Prices for Alvar Aalto furniture may vary depending upon size, time period and other attributes. The price for these items starts at $210 and tops out at $59,073, while pieces like these can sell for $4,200 on average.