Alvar Aalto // Mid Century Designers A to Z

Alvar Aalto (1898-1976, Finland) is best known for his work with bent plywood and laminated wood furniture. With his wife, Aino, they opened a furniture manufacturing company, Artek, which is still producing furniture today. Here are some of his most famous works: 

1931 - Model 41 - Paimio Chair // 1932 - Three-legged Stool 60 - Birch Veneer // 1933 - Two-Tier Table // 1936 - Model 43 - Lounge Chair // Model 66 - Chair // 1946 - Model 612 - Chair

In the 1950s, Aalto designed many ceiling light fixtures manufactured by Valaistustyo.
1950 - A335 Ceiling Lamp Blue // 1950s - 335 B Ceiling Lamp // 1951 - Beehive A331 // 1952 - A335 Ceiling Lamp // 1954 - A624 Ceiling Lamp

The Aalto Vase was unveiled in 1937 at the World's Fair, it became an instant success and is still manufactured today. Here is a video of how it is made.

Before designing furniture, Aalto studied architecture at Helsinki University of Technology. First, he was an architect, then that career led into furniture design. He continued to do both throughout his career. Here are a few of the buildings he designed: 

Paimio Sanatorium // Aalto Theater // Finlandia Hall // Villa Mairea

Aalto's Studio in Helsinki (photographs taken by Leslie Williamson). Aalto's studio now functions as the Alvar Aalto Academy, giving advice on the restoration of Aalto buildings and organizing the vast archive material.

If we could choose our favorite piece of Aalto's collection of work is his Armchair 406 manufactured by Artek.


  1. Ahhh! I love that you are doing these posts! I'll be your biggest fan :) Since you are here in Portland, I'm guessing you've seen the Mount Angel Abbey Library. It doesn't look like much from the outside, but the inside is pretty great. AND they've got some of his furniture there, too.

  2. Beautiful pieces. IKEA knocked off the 3-legged stool a few years back (no longer available) and I promptly bought 6 to use to display Christmas trees. All the pieces are timeless.