Alvar Aalto - Editions, Photographs and Design Hong Kong Friday, June 14, 2024 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Artek, Helsinki
    Acquired from the above by the present owner, 2013

  • Literature

    Juhani Pallasmaa, ed., Alvar Aalto Furniture, exh. cat., Museum of Finnish Architecture, Helsinki, 1984, pp. 76, 80, 86-89, 126
    Peter Reed, ed., Alvar Aalto: Between Humanism and Materialism, exh. cat., The Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1998, p. 164
    Pirkko Tuukkanen, ed., Alvar Aalto Designer, Vammala, 2002, pp. 71, 160, 165
    Thomas Kellein, ed., Alvar & Aino Aalto: Design Collection Bischofberger, exh. cat., Kunsthalle Bielefeld, Zürich, 2005, p. 39

  • Catalogue Essay

    Perhaps the innovation Finnish designer Alvar Aalto is best known for, is the development of the use of stack-laminated birch plywood in his modern furniture designs. The use of heat and steam to bend the medium, making it temporarily pliable during construction, resulted in organic forms which were both cost-effective and ergonomic. The sinuous lines in Aalto’s works bring a sense of warmth into living spaces with their relaxed and comfortable shapes, complimenting and enhancing the pleasant charm of natural wood. The present chair model was designed for patients in a Finnish sanitorium in the late 1920s - early 1930s and is one of Aalto’s most revered designs, with pieces in the permanent collections of globally renowned institutions such as The Metropolitan Museum in New York City. Its subtle recline and graceful undulation of the wood creates a comfortable seat to physically rest, and the natural birch material lends for mental and overall well-being.

  • 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.

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Early 'Paimio' armchair, model no 41

circa 1933
Lacquered birch plywood, birch plywood.
Manufactured by O.y. Huonekalu-ja Rakennustyötehdas A.b., Turku, Finland.

HK$80,000 - 120,000 

Sold for HK$69,850

Contact Specialist

Nick Wilson
Senior Director, Head of Editions, Photographs and Design, Asia
+852 2318 2022

Robert Kennan
Head of Editions, Europe

Editions, Photographs and Design

Hong Kong Auction 14 June 2024