Like many of Alvar Aalto’s furniture designs, this chair was conceived of for the Paimio sanatorium (1927–32), this model for its lecture hall. Anxious to provide seating that was as welcoming and comfortable as possible, Aalto decided against tubular-steel designs and opted for an all-wood construction. These armchairs, manufactured for sale by Otto Korhonen’s firm and from 1935 by Artek, became among the most successful of Aalto’s productions in the 1930s and one of the defining objects of humanized Modernism. The structural rationalism of separating support and supported was a fundamental principle of Modernist design. The delightful juxtaposition of coloured plywood seat and back and light birch frame has a biomorphic quality to it, which invites one to sit down in the chair. By this time Aalto had mastered the possibilities of forming plywood in hot metal presses; the freeform curve of the seat and back is both an expression of the free will of the artist and a masterly deployment of the elasticity of the material. The chair is still in production by Artek.
Alvar Aalto (1898–1976)
Manufactured by Huonekalu- ja Rakennustyötehdas Oy, Turku
Birch plywood and solid birch, painted seat
63.5 x 61 x 89cm
Museum no. W. 14–1987
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