architect - designer
Born in Kuortane, Finland, Alvar Aalto studied architecture at the
Technical University of Helsinki from 1916 to 1921. He was a skilful architect and designer
of furniture, glass, and lighting.
He started his career working as an exhibition designer and in 1925,
became involved with furniture design.
He used to work with bent wood and glue, a technique which he used for the creation of
many items including the world-famous Paimio furniture, a collection originally meant for a
sanatorium in an area called Paimio.
In 1927 he won a competition
for the construction of the South-western Finland Agricultural Cooperative Building and
moved to the city of Turku. He became a member of the Congrès Internationaux
Moderne in 1928. In 1929 he designed the Turku 700th Anniversary Exhibition, and
an experimental plywood workshop in Turku with the designer Otto Korhonen who was the
technical director of a furniture factory in the area.
In 1933 he finished the construction of the tuberculosis sanatorium situated in the thick
of the area of Paimio about 29 km East of Turku. In addition to designing the building,
he designed the interior of the entire sanatorium using furniture that he had especially
created for the purpose, which he named Paimio after the location where the sanatorium
In 1935, with Harry Gullichsen (an important economist), Maire Gullichsen (an important
professor of visual arts, design, and architecture), and Aino Marsio (popular architect and
designer), he founded the furniture design company Artek where
he continued to develop the technique for the production of laminated-wood furniture that
used for the creation of the Paimio collection.
In 1936 he designed his own house in Helsinki's Munkkiniemi basing his work on the
that the starting point in the design of a building should be the natural look its surroundings.
He subsequently used this method with success in the design of many other buildings.
A good example of this is the Sunila factory community.
In 1939 he designed the pavilion for the New York World's Fair. After the Second World War
he designed the student dormitory building for MIT (Massachusetts Institute
of Technology). In 1957 he was given a gold medal by the Royal Institute of British
Architects (RIBA). In 1958, years in which he relinquished the chairmanship of the Finnish
Association of Architects, he won several competitions.
In 1960 he designed the Sein�joki and Rovaniemi city centres.
Alvar Aalto's work was successfully shown in the UK at the Exhibition of Finnish Design held
in London in 1933, and in France at the Paris 1937 Exhibition.