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"Alvar Aalto" Tag


Where order is born is born wellbeing.


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Alvar Aalto, one of Finland’s most famous people who reshaped architecture and furniture of public buildings on the basis of functionality and organic relationship between man, nature and buildings, is now called the “Father of Modernism” in Scandinavian countries.

 

He was born Hugo Alvar Henrik Aalto, on February 3, 1898, in Kuortane, Finland (at that time Finland was part of Russian Empire). He was the first of three children. His father, J. H. Aalto, was a government surveyor. His mother, Selma Hackestedt, was of Swedish ancestry, she died in 1903.

Hence, Hugo Alvar Henrik Aalto was educated a lot by his grandfathers. His grandfathers were both very close to nature, one of them was a forest guard. Alvar Aalto has a child use to play a lot in the forest. It was obviously through him that the outdoor world, particularly the forest became so important in Aalto work. The forest with his towering tree trunks and his various rock shapes is a world a constant changing forms which inspired Aalto a lot. Aalto probably found in nature the basic geometrics patterns for his architecture and furnitures.  The forest thought him also that nature is a sensitive ecological system in which men must find his place.

Aalto’s relationship is pretty clear according to the paintings he did as a child. He hesitated few years either to become a painter or an architect. According to his saying, he decided at the age of nine that he wanted to become an architect.

Aalto has been educated in the idea of National Romanticism, the Finnish version of Art Nouveau. Aalto rejected it, such as pretty much his whole generation. However he took one important feature from his predecessors : the idea that his creation should perfectly fit into nature.

Around 1920 a softer version of the strict modernist aesthetic emerged in Scandinavia, characterized by the use of (curved) wood in combination with shapes, colours, and decorations inspired by nature. The resulting furniture arose from the ambition that design should offer both beauty and functionality, and be affordable to everyone.

Aalto rejected a lot of furnitures of his time, he wanted to find a material that makes chairs pleasant to sit in. A lot of Aalto’s furnitures were also inspired by the shapes of nature. He often solved practical problems with abstract experimentation of forms with wood. Aalto experimented with bending a bunch of wood to create chairs.

Through experimentation with wood Aalto discovers specific properties which could be useful of men. For instance, in the interior of the Viipuri Library Aalto created rooms inspired by nature which specific functions. Such architectural solutions as a sunken reading-well, free-flowing ceilings and cylindrical skylights, first tested in Viipuri, would regularly appear in Aalto’s works. Aalto differed from the first generation of modernist architects (such as Walter Gropius and Le Corbusier) in his predilection for natural materials: in this design, « wood was first introduced into an otherwise modernist setting of concrete, white stucco, glass, and steel ».

Aalto’s work with wood, was obviously influenced by early Scandinavian architects; however, his experiments and departure from the norm brought attention to his ability to make wood do things not previously done. He was one of the first architect/designer to be able to find a way to bent wood in order to create theses beautiful organic shapes. Aalto studied architecture at Helsinki University of Technology, however during a large part of his career Aalto created a lot of furniture. Like Le Corbusier, Aalto considered that furnitures and architecture should be a collective and cohesive ensemble that creates order. His experimental method has been influenced by his meetings with various members of the Bauhaus design school.

After traveling through Europe, he was exposed to International Style and soon adopted the natural materials and organic forms of this approach into his aesthetic.

Beauty is the harmony of purpose and form.


Thursday, February 15, 2018

Alvor Aalto : Screen 100

Skærmbillede 2018-01-18 kl. 16.17.03

Alvor Aalto was born in 1898. Most of his childhood and youth he lived in Jyväskylä, a town in the center of Finland, surrounded by the big finish nature. Thousand of lakes and woods with millions of birch trees, must have influenced the young Aalto.
In his work nature is always present, either in the organic shape of the products or the choice of materials. And Finland is present, one can say that Finland is with Aalto and that Aalto is with Finland.

Aalto was both an architect and a designer. It is very obvious in one of his early works, the Paimio Sanatorium. In addition to the new and functional building he also designed all interior for the building. Today the Paimio Chair is probably the most well-known Aalto chair from that time. It was designed for the patients, functionality and mass production was important issues, together with the organic shape it all makes the chair an icon of good design.

Skærmbillede 2018-01-18 kl. 16.17.48

“Beauty is the harmony of purpose and form.”  Alvor Aalto 1928.

Alvor Aalto has had an immense impact on our perception of Scandinavian design today.
In 1935 he founded the company Artek together with his wife Aino and Nils-Gustave Hahl and Maire Gullichsen. The company should handle the sale of Alto furniture, but they wanted to take it further. They saw themselves as promoters of “Rational living and interior Design” (as they write in ‘the Artek Manifesto’). In other words they wanted to educate people and teach about the ”good life”.

All over Europe design changed or evolved in to something more functional, modern and lighter. There was a new way of thinking, new production possibilities and materials. Just think of the Bauhaus movement in Germany. In Aalto’s design he combines that thinking with natural materials and organic shapes.

It is evident in the screen 100 from 1936. The construction is so simple. Wooden sticks assembled with a metal wire. When the screen is used as a room divider or a simple screen it forms different organic shapes.
The repetition of the vertical wooden sticks leads the minds to forests with beautiful slender birch trees. An effect Alvor Alto also used, when he worked with different expressions on the facade of his buildings. That can be seen on the picture of the finish pavilion which Aalto made for the world exhibition in New York in 1939.

Skærmbillede 2018-01-18 kl. 16.17.31

The screen has been sold since late 1930s. At the Stedelijk, I found it attractive and it caught my attention at first because of the simplicity and round shape.

On the attached picture it can be seen in the Artek Showroom in Helsinki in the late 1930s.  Today it is still for sale in the Artek Showroom together with the Paimio Chair and many other Aalto products.

Even though Alvor Aalto made fantastic design he still wanted the user to influence the design.

 “ A standardized object should not be a finished product, but on the contrary be made so that man and all the individual laws controlling him supplement its form.” Alvar Aalto 1935 

The Screen is a standardized object, but the user is the one who forms it.

Skærmbillede 2018-01-18 kl. 16.17.18

A small conclusion:

Why did I try to build the screen, how was it and what happened on the way?

At first when I saw this screen, my first thought was that I wanted it at home. It looked so simple and gentle in it’s look. How it stood there and divided the exhibition with its calmness and simpleness. But still what I was fascinated by, was that it was also simple to make, it is basically just sticks put together and then the shape makes it stand.

But such an iconic and great design object needs time to make. And often with design and especially Scandinavian design, simple stuff takes the longest.

Therefore I decided to build a model myself, I wanted to try and put myself in the making and designing of this. It was fun, I made a small 1:10 scale model

IMG_6040 IMG_6039 IMG_6038 IMG_6037

The small model didn’t give me any trouble that I didn’t expect. It was simple and easy and a very honest object. I think If I scaled it up I would have had more trouble and I would have been confronted with some other problems.

But all in all it was clear for me after trying to make a model and looking into the design and production of this, that this object is very honest.

It is exactly what you see.

IMG_6036 IMG_6035 IMG_6034


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