Alvar Aalto - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale Hong Kong Thursday, July 9, 2020 | Phillips

Create your first list.

Select an existing list or create a new list to share and manage lots you follow.

  • Description

    A Century of Modern Design: the Collection of Kai-Yin Lo
    Hong Kong-based collector Kai-Yin Lo amassed an extraordinary collection that reflects inspiration, innovation and scholarship. The collection of modern and contemporary design is global in its scope and vast in its chronological sweep.


  • Provenance

    Artek, Finland
    Sotheby’s, London, ‘Modern & Contemporary Design’, 18 October 2008, lot 12
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Literature

    Juhani Pallasmaa, ed., Alvar Aalto Furniture, exh. cat., Museum of Finnish Architecture, Helsinki, 1984, pp. 12, 76, 80, 86-89, 91, 126, 132-33
    Pirkko Tuukkanen, ed., Alvar Aalto Designer, Vammala, 2002, pp. 18, 71, 160, 165
    Nina Stritzler-Levine, ed., Artek and the Aaltos: Creating a Modern World, exh. cat., Bard Graduate Center, New York, 2016, throughout

  • Catalogue Essay

    The Finnish architect Alvar Aalto designed the present model chair for one of his most famous commissions, a hospital in Paimio, Finland. In the years following this commission, Artek began producing variants of the design. According to the Artek archives, the current lot is an early and rare production example executed in curly birch as a special edition. Due to the difficulty of obtaining this material and production complications, less than twenty examples are known to have been made. Aalto is considered one of the leading figures in modern architecture and design, and this chair represents his iconic use of bent plywood. Aalto’s experiments—where he took very thin sheets of plywood and bent them into two tight curves—were truly groundbreaking and tested the limits of plywood manufacturing at the time. Aalto’s genius results consequently inspired numerous imitations throughout the 20th century. The flowing, organic lines of the chair and the use of birch combine to create not only a comfortable chair with a natural feel but also one of his most famous and beautiful designs.

  • Artist Biography

    Alvar Aalto

    Finnish • 1898 - 1976

    In contrast with the functionalism of the International Style (as well the neoclassicism put forward by the Nazi and Soviet regimes), Alvar Aalto brought a refreshing breath of humanism to modern design: "True architecture exists only where man stands in the center," he wrote. Aalto designed furniture in stack-laminated plywood composed of Finnish birch, which was cost-effective and lent warmth to his interiors. Aalto also revived Finnish glass design with his entries in the various Karhula-Iitala glassworks competitions throughout the 1930s.

    In 1936 he won first place for a collection of colorful, wavy vases in various sizes titled Eskimoerindens skinnbuxa (The Eskimo Woman’s Leather Breeches). The vases were an immediate success and the most popular size, now known as the "Savoy" vase, is still in production today. Aalto's freeform designs, in harmony with human needs and nature, anticipated the organic modernism of the 1950s and 1960s; in particular, his innovations in bent plywood had a major impact on designers such as Charles and Ray Eames.

    View More Works

Eternal Form - A Century of Modern and Contemporary Design


Rare armchair, model no. 42

designed 1932, executed circa 1936
curly birch-veneered bent plywood, bent laminated birch
68 x 60.2 x 70 cm. (26 3/4 x 23 3/4 x 27 1/2 in.)
Produced by Artek, Helsinki, Finland. Underside of each leg impressed 433. Designed 1932, executed circa 1936.

HK$40,000 - 60,000 

Sold for HK$56,250

Contact Specialist
Danielle So
Associate Specialist, Head of Day Sale

20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale

Hong Kong Auction 9 July 2020