Alvar Aalto – Biography

Alvar Aalto
Alvar Aalto

Alvar Aalto was an architect who after a short classicist period turned to functionalism. His most famous buildings are Viipuri Library (1927-35), Sanatorium at Paimio (1929-33), Finlandia Conference Centre and Concert Hall (1970-75), House of Culture at Helsinki (1955-58).

He had special periods when the main material used to the buildings was red bricks and another when the main material was white marble.

Aalto wanted to create interiors which matched with the building itself. He planned lightings, furniture and glassware. Most of Aalto´s furniture were designed along with the architecture.

For the Paimio chair Aalto used the pressed plywood. He collaborated with Otto Korhonen and studied the possibilities which the wood offered. Aalto considered the leg of a chair as a column of a building. He developed different leg types as bent leg, Y-leg and X-leg.

Aalto designed glass for Iittala. The Savoy vase (1954) is the most famous from the series of several vases with curved lines and asymmetrical shape. Many of the furniture and glass items designed by him are still in production.

Aalto also designed printed textiles with geometrical decorations which would match both to homes and to official buildings.

Aalto is well known for the exhibition designs for example the New York World´s Fair, 1939 and  the Finnish Pavilion in Paris Exhibition 1937.

His awards include the Royal gold medal of Architecture, Britain, 1957; first prize, Finnish Pavilion Competition, 1939 New York World´s Fair; first prize, Finnish Pavilion Competition, 1937, Paris World Exhibition. 

Written by Simon
I am a published writer, journalist and photo-journalist. I have an MA in Creative Writing and Journalism from the University of Wales and my journalism has been published in a number of UK national newspapers including 'the Observer'. I have life long interest in creative design, art and function and this website is an exploration of that in all its forms and guises.