Hugo Alvar Hendrik Aalto
When one thinks of Alvar Aalto images of laminated wood and plywood furniture instantly spring to mind.
Alvar experimented with a variety of construction materials including tubular steel but he made the most significant technical innovations using laminated materials such as birch and plywood.
Originally Alvar studied to become an architect in Helsinki but eventually found himself working as an exhibition designer and travelled extensively in central Europe, Italy and Scandinavia.
In 1924 he married the designer, Aino Marsio and together and for five years they experimented with the bending of wood. This research led to Alvar's revolutionary designs of the 1930's. Alvar began bonding veneers together and moulding plywood. These experiments led to one of the most innovative chairs at the time which he named Model No.41.
The chair is made from laminated and solid birch frame. Birch is a very flexible and springy material. The seat is made from bent plywood which has been heavily lacquered. The scrolls at the back of the chair have been bent into such a shape by removing several layers of the plywood veneer.
Alvar also designed and made Model No.31 at around the same period. This was a cantilevered chair. Both were very contemporary at the time. It was the first chair to use laminated wood in a cantilever structure.
The designs began a new trend in the use of laminated woods and plywood. The furniture proved to be very successful with the public and as a result Alvar and his wife set up a company selling the furniture. The company was named Artek and was set up in 1935.
Alvar's furniture was well received both in Britain and America during the 1930's and 1940's. His philosophy of design was influenced by nature and organic materials.
Alvar Aalto died on May 11, 1976, in helsinki.