Design Icons. Alvar Aalto

Alvar Aalto once said that “architecture belongs to culture, not to civilization.” People and functionality should be at the forefront of design, with a building working both on the inside and the out. As an architect, Aalto aimed to create “a paradise.” Spaces that could be enjoyed and where culture, not just civilisation, could flourish. It’s this attention to detail, warmth and value for people that we are celebrating at Alice Made This with the launch of our Alvar cufflinks and lapel pins, available from today in silver, gold, copper and rhodium.

Alvar Aalto | Cufflinks | Lapel Pins

While Alice was working for Tom Dixon, he was appointed as Creative Director for Artek, the Finnish furniture company founded by Alvar Aalto and his wife Aino Aalto in 1935. With a desire to combine art and technology, Artek echoed the main ideas behind the Bauhaus movement and emphasised quality materials and production methods as opposed to meaningless ornamentation. 

Originally founded with the aim to produce furnishings for Aalto’s buildings, Artek’s furniture soon became renowned for mirroring the humanistic approach of Aalto’s architecture. For example, featuring natural materials, warm colours and undulating lines, the Viipuri Library showcases Aalto’s experimentation with wood, space and functionalist architectural design. The wave-shaped ceiling in the auditorium was based on acoustic studies to optimise the experience for the building’s users. People always came first.

Artek’s Paimio chair built on Aalto’s work with wood, particularly how it could be bent and flexed. The cantilevered birch wood chair was designed for tuberculosis patients to sit on for long hours. The back of the chair was angled for patients to breathe most easily and the bending of the wood tested the technical limits of the time. In doing so, Aalto became the first designer to use the cantilever principle in chair design using wood. 

Like the contrast between metal and wood, on the surface, Tom Dixon and Artek appear as juxtapositions. However, their foundations are the same. Quality materials, expert production methods and simple, functional designs. 

While working for Tom Dixon, Alice was able to travel to India one week to experiment with raw castings, before flying to Finland the next to learn about joining and bending wood. It was during this time that she honed her love of factories and precise production. She fell in love with Finnish people and their patriotism towards Aalto. She saw first hand the benefits of being a multidisciplinary designer and surrounding yourself with, not only artists, but engineers, architects and textile experts. By drawing on the wealth of resources and methods available to you, a design will become refined, clean and honest.

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