Artek: Finnish Design Icons
Founded in 1935 by four young Finns (Alvar and Aino Aalto, Maire Gullichsen and Nils-Gustav Hahl), Artek has become renowned for being one the most innovative companies in modern design. Originally Alvar Aalto began designing furniture as an extension of his architecture, and in 1931 created his first
furniture for a sanitorium at Paimio. The best known of those pieces is his cantilevered birch wood Paimio chair which was specifically designed for tuberculosis patients, the angle of which, Aalto argued, was perfect for enabling patients to breathe more easily. Today that chair is part of the permanent collections of both the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York and the Finnish Design Museum.
From the beginning Artek aimed to be more than just a commercial enterprise; the company also sought to develop the modernistic sensibilities of its founding members. The very name of the company identified its core value, that of converging art and technology, and was representative of the founders’ belief in a grand synthesis of the arts. Today, Artek continues in the same spirit, and it remains at the forefront of modern design while continuing its tradition of incorporating best quality materials. Its original values, those of long-term durability combined with a clean-lined form language, remain the driving forces of Artek; indeed, some of its most important products continue to be the furniture designed by Aalto. However, Artek doesn’t stand still nor rely on past glories; the company has also extended its collection and taken on new designers to follow in Aalto’s footsteps.
Artek launched a number of newly designed items in its abc Collection at the Maison&Objet fair in Paris in January. The abc Collection consists of small objects that integrate naturally into the rest of Artek’s furniture collection. The title is a reference to the alphabet of living. Among the January launches were products featuring the H55 fabric pattern designed in 1955 by Elissa Aalto and a stationery collection by the German design studio Greige.
The Lento Lounge easy chair has received the 2012 GOOD DESIGN™ Award and the Interior Innovation Award – Winner 2013. GOOD DESIGN™ is the world’s most prestigious, recognized, and oldest design award program, organized annually by The Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design in cooperation with the European Centre for Architecture, Art, Design and Urban Studies. The Interior Innovation Award is granted by the German Design Council on the occasion of the imm cologne Fair.
Artek Deutschland GmbH has found a new home in the German capital of Berlin. Nestled in the heart of Europe, the impressive Mondial Home sends a clear signal that Artek is headed in the direction of the broader European market. Spanning across an impressive penthouse on the 10th and 11th floors of Potsdamer Strasse 85C, Artek’s new headquarters reside in the building previously home to Der Tagesspiegel, an architectural landmark in Berlin perfectly meeting all the criteria that Artek has for a cosmopolitan location.
An icon of modern design, Alvar Aalto’s three-legged Stool 60 celebrated its 80th anniversary last year. As one of the best-known design items in the world, Stool 60 is the quintessential piece of the Artek collection. In Stockholm, the anniversary year kicked off with two colourful editions of Stool 60. At Stockholm Furniture Fair, Artek also showed the strength of its portfolio: Kiki, Lento Lounge, the Artek abc Collection and new colourful lighting fixtures together with the Artek classics designed by Alvar Aalto.
You can learn more at the Artek website