Born at the cusp of Modernism, Finnish architect Alvar Aalto became famous for both his buildings and his furniture designs. Aalto's unique style grew out of a passion for painting and a fascination for the works of cubist artists Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque.
February 3, 1898 in Kuortane, Finland
May 11, 1976 in Helsinki, Finland
Hugo Alvar Henrik Aalto
Graduated with honors in architecture from Helsinki University of Technology
Important Buildings by Alvar Aalto:
- 1920: White Guards Headquarters, Seinajoki, Finland
- 1927-1935: Viipuri Library, Viipuri, Russia
- 1929-33: Paimio Tuberculosis Sanatorium, Paimio, Finland
- 1938-39: Finnish Pavilion, New York's World Fair (demolished)
- 1946-49: Baker House, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA
- 1949-1966: Institute of Technology in Otaniemi, Finland
- 1957-1960: Lakeuden Risti Church, Seinajoki, Finland
- 1959-1962: Enso-Gutzeit Headquarters, Helsinki, Finland
- 1962-1965: Seinajoki Town Hall, Seinajoki, Finland
- 1967-75: Finlandia Hall, Helsinki, Finland
Also Known For:
Alvar Aalto also became famous for his furniture and glassware design. With his first wife, Aino Mariso, Alvar Aalto founded Artek, a company that continues to sell innovative furnishings.
Alvar Aalto's passion for painting led to the development of his unique architectural style. Cubism and collage , explored by the painters Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, became important elements in Alvar Aalto's work. Alvar Aalto used color, texture, and light to create collage-like architectural landscapes.
More About Alvar Aalto:
Early works by Alvar Aalto combined neoclassical ideas with the International Style. Later, Aalto's buildings were characterized by asymmetry, curved walls, and complex textures.
Alvar Aalto received international acclaim with the completion of the Paimio Tuberculosis Sanatorium. The Sanatorium building established Aalto's dominance of the International style and, more importantly, emphasized Aalto's attention to the human side of design. The patients' rooms, with their specially designed heating, lighting and furniture, are models of integrated environmental design. Alvar Aalto's Paimio chair (1932) assisted patient breathing.
The term Nordic Classicism has been used to describe some of Alvar Aalto's work. Many of his buildings combined sleek lines with richly textured natural materials such as stone, teak, and rough-hewn logs.
Alvar Aalto was also known for furniture and industrial design. In 1932, he developed a revolutionary type of furniture made of laminated bent plywood.
To learn more about the life and work of Alvar Aalto, see: