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Cabinet Maker to Industry Leader

You don't have to search long for the evidence that Konstantin Grcic is a major force in the design world. Trained first as a cabinet maker at The John Makepeace School in Dorset, England, then studying at the Royal College of Art in London, Grcic ("grich-ich") today boasts an impressive list of merits. His Munich-based practice, Konstantin Grcic Industrial Design (KGID, 1991), has developed furniture, lighting, and products for most of the preeminent figures in modern design, including Artek, Vitra, Flos, ClassiCon, and Matiazzi, among many others.

Photo by Oliver Mark for Dwell

Konstantin Grcic defines function in human terms, combining formal strictness with considerable mental acuity and humor. Each of his products is characterized by a careful research into the history of design and architecture and his passion for technology and materials.  

Grcic with the high-backed version of his "Rival" Chair for Artek.

Known for pared-down pieces, Grcic is often called a minimalist but the designer himself prefers to speak of simplicity.  

Gricic's studio-like solo exhibition at the Art institute of Chicago (Decisive Design, 2009).

In addition to his solo features, he has also been invited throughout his career to curate exhibits for institutions including the Serpentine Gallery in London (2009), the St. Etienne Biennnale (2010), and the Instituto Svizzero (Rome, 2010), and his work is included in the permanent collections of the MoMA (NYC) and Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris).

 

Grcic's straight-forward and durable Three Bag, for Maharam and available at Artek.

See more of Konstantin Grcic's designs for Artek here, and learn more about all of our designers here.

We're delighted to share the news that a Finnish committee for the restoration of Alvar Aalto's Viipuri Library has received the 2014 World Monuments Fund/ Knoll Modernism Prize. Founded in 2008, the award is granted every two years for an architectural or design solution that has preserved or enhanced a modern landmark or group of landmarks.

Top: Alvar and Aino Aalto in the entry stairwell, 1935 Bottom: The entryway today. 

Alvar Aalto's Viipuri Library was constructed between 1927-1935, after he entered and won an architectural competition to design a municipal library. The finished structure put him on the map as one of the most important modernists of his time, and led to the Museum of Modern Art featuring the designs of Aalto in the museum’s first exhibition on the work of an international style architect in 1938. But after WWII,  when Viipuri, Finland became Vyborg, Russia under the Soviet Union's regime, the iconic structure was threatened by abandonment, neglect, and "inappropriate renovations," according to the World Monuments Fund (WMF). 

The Lending Room in 1933, and after restoration in 2013. 

The Finnish Committee for the Restoration of Viipuri Library was founded in 1992 after the fall of the USSR, committed to the enormous project of repairing and preserving the heroic achievement of one history's most influential modern architects.The campaign took two decades and the library appeared twice on the World Monuments Watch list for modern buildings at risk, in 2000 and 2002. 

 

 

The North Facade of the building in 1935, and today. 

"The restoration organised and executed an impressive international campaign that has ensured the survival and revival of Aalto's masterpiece by restoring it to its original function as a vibrant municipal library," said Barry Bergdoll, chairman of the Modernism Prize jury and curator of architecture and design at New York's Museum of Modern Art. "With its distinctive sky-lighted roof, undulating wood-slatted lecture hall ceiling, and glass facade-enclosed staircase — the library at Viipuri is one of Aalto’s most important buildings from the years in which he was adventurously exploring a new Modernist vocabulary."

The undulating roof of the lecture hall, 1933 and after restoration in 2013.

The spirit of the committee echoed the philosophy of the architect himself: "The project reflects the highest standards of scholarship, authenticity, architecture, materials conservation, functionality, social impact, stewardship, and technical imagination," said a statement from the WFM. 

The 58 signature skylights are essential to the historic play of light throughout the building. The WMF contributed a grant of $300,000 for their restoration.

The winners will receive $10,000 and a limited edition Mies van der Rohe Barcelona Chair from Knoll in a ceremony at MoMA on December 1st. WMF president Bonnie Burnham and Andrew B Cogan, CEO of Knoll, who sponsors the prize, will be the presenters. You can read the official press release for the award here

We know that Alvar Aalto would be proud, and we at Artek are honored to be carrying on his legacy.

Images courtesy of The Finnish Committee for the Restoration of Viipuri Library and Petri Neuvonen.

 

Recently, we hosted a dinner for Metropolis Magazine editor-in-chief Susan Szenasy in honor of her new book: Susan Szenasy, Design Advocate

The intimate event at our showroom in NYC was a great success, and not least because of our elegant table settings. As the holidays approach, we wanted to share with you some inspiration for making your family time at the table beautiful with Artek.

Siena napkins add an interesting graphic touch to the simplicity of our Szenasy celebration dinner table. Sleek calla lilies look classic in an Aalto vase with white ribbon accents.

Artek, Vitra, and Studioilse collaborated to create this dining arrangement that perfectly combines symmetry and surprise. 

The Meadowflower pattern is a beautifully delicate addition to any table. Blogger Anu of Nalle's House paired the Artek pattern with her own heirloom linens.

This table, first featured in Apartment Therapy, is romantic in its simplicity.

Mix old and new patterns for a timeless, delightfully eclectic feeling.

Bright colors in repeating patterns have a bold effect. Love the H55 Pattern in red? You could win it and the Aalto Vase, at Design Milk!

 

Which Artek table setting is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below.

Plus, send us a picture of your own setting on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!

 

November 06
Artek at the Table