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The architecture and designs of Alvar Aalto share a common theme: their consideration of natural forms. While studying architecture as a young man, Aalto was greatly influenced by the Bauhaus movement, which emphasized the marriage of form and function and discouraged ornamentation. Aalto, who grew up among the rolling hills and forests of Jyväskylä, built upon this concept, taking inspiration from his surroundings. He saw beauty in the standardization of nature, the combining of cells to make an extraordinary number of possible variations. Rather than imposing upon nature or resisting its influence, Aalto took advantage of the potential of organic forms to create products and environments that would build a cohesive, functional, beautiful world.  His masterful expression of this philosophy is what contributes to the longevity of his designs, and our intuitive appreciation of them. 

Using the natural surroundings as a starting point for his design process became the trademark of Aalto's architecture. His first true opportunity to do so was the secluded Paimio Sanatorium, set deep in the Paimio forests. The curved entryway, maximizing of natural light, and use of native woods in the design were carefully selected to both enhace the experience of patients staying there, and to make the structure feel like a seamless addition to the environment.

 

 

Aalto's organic philosophy is perhaps most fully expressed in the building considered his masterpiece: Villa Mairea. The play between rigid and flowing forms in the structure and furnishings created a conversation about humanity's relationship to nature in a newly modern era. The success of the design confirms Aalto's belief that standardization is an element of the natural world. 

Exacting with every detail, Aalto would even invent new building materials to better express a designs intention. He developed a specialized kind of brick to achieve the shell-like curves of the Finnish House of Culture, and would often experiment with materials and form through fine arts, like the birch relief pictured above. 

Perhaps Aalto's most famous manufacturing invention, the wood bending technique he first developed to create the iconic Stool 60 gave rise to a host of organically inspired designs. As nature is composed of building blocks contributing to a whole, Aalto filled his buildings with furniture that reiterated the natural influences. 

Even Aalto's use of birch as the primary material for his furniture celebrates the natural resources of Finland, and his most minimalist designs are softened by rounded edges or flexible forms, like in the Armchair 401 and the Ceiling Lamp A338. The silhouettes are complete in and of themselves. Without superfluous ornamentation, they could be combined infinitely to create settings suited to individual tastes and uses.  

Alvar Aalto saw that people are not separate from the complexity of nature, but a part of it. Design, intended for human use, must therefore be in agreement with nature, and not opposed to its forms and influences. This line of thinking is echoed in much of the ecological beliefs of modern day. Perhaps, the city Aalto dreamed of - one with green areas at the heart and extending throughout with wildlife and plant life in harmony- could still be achieved with greater consideration of nature in our designs today. 

 

 

Designing a home office presents a special challenge: the environment must encourage productivity and organization, while integrating with the unique style of the living space around it. Much of traditional office furniture lacks the personality to feel like an extension of the home. It's tactical in nature, and wanting the nuance of designs intended for domestic use. But, designs that bring function and form together in harmony results in clean lines and a refreshing openness, allowing Artek to respond to and enhance your home's unique style. 

Often, a home office will occupy a corner of a larger open space rather than having a dedicated room of its own. The unenclosed space under the 81B Table avoids breaking up the movement of the room, allowing the arrangement to blend seamlessly with the space around it. A high-backed Rival chair in red-lacquered birch provides an anchoring pop of color and a more comfortable and attractive alternative to a traditional task chair.  

When the home office is more privately located, clean aesthetics can maintain a sense of openness even behind closed doors. The 81B Table and 901 Tea Trolley create a desk suite that is versatile and supportive, allowing for easy storage, reference, or use of multiple devices. A bright birch chair with charming geometry offers exceptional support for long work sessions, and the freedom of movement necessary for multi-tasking. 

Simple environments help to encourage focus, without feeling stifling or restrictive the way the walls of a cubicle or more embellished design might. Devoid of accessory, but still within the attitudes of home design, this simple pairing of 81B Table and a low-set chair is especially suited to students.

Of course, Artek has much to offer in a formal work setting, as well. Understated and calming designs like Aalto's Stool 60 , Bench 153B, and more bring smart personality to professional environments. 

Do you use Artek in a work space at home, or at the office? Share with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

 

 

Photo by Nalles House

Kids need a lot of room - room to grow, to play, to learn, and for their imaginations to run wild. All that adventure can be tough on furniture, and creating playrooms that delight for years is a special challenge for homemaking parents. Ill-made chairs and tables get swapped out like disposable furniture as they're damaged in play or outgrown.What if, instead, parents invested in pieces their children could love now and grow into appreciating later? Joyful designs that create memories in the early years, and weather time for future generations. Artek's designs for children have a cheerful quality that encourages play, while retaining the classic, sensible lines that indicate respect for playtime as serious business, and help kids feel that they have a space of their own. They're safe and sturdy, and sized just right for little hands. Below, take a look at some of our favorite play rooms, created from designs that grow up with your family. 

 

 

Keep toys organized within reach in a low-sitting Tea Trolley 900, with items for display or occasional play in view on curvy Aalto Wall Shelves. Siena Curtains add a sweet splash of color, and Eames Elephants are perfect companions for climbing, both indoors and outdoors. For coloring, building, and quiet-time work, the special Moomins collection stools, tables, and chairs add extra whimsy. 

 

 

Simple shapes and bright colors add playful personality without overwhelming. The Children's N65 Chair and a low 81B Table mirror iconic designs in smaller iterations. Light walls and floors create calm and openness for little ones to be inspired. 

 

 

Pendant lights hung low help the room feel more suited to a smaller scale, while Stool 60 and Stool E60 offer two variations on accessibly low seating at versatile 90C Tables, all available in a variety of colors and finishes. 

Do you have a favorite playroom or childhood bedroom decorated with Artek? Share with us on on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!

 

June 11
Artek Kids