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Alvar Aalto behind his desk

Alvar Aalto: A Finnish Icon


alvar aalto, a founder of modern scandinavian design and one of the greatest finnish architects and designers of all time.

Have you always been a fan of the Scandinavian style? Or have you recently discovered the style more and is it appealing to you? In this article we take a look at the life of Alvar Aalto, a founder of modern Scandinavian design and one of the greatest Finnish architects and designers of all time.

A young Alvar Aalto

Who was Alvar Aalto?

His history and inspiration

One of the biggest names in Scandinavian design to this day: Alvar Aalto. Born on 3 February 1898 in a small town called Kuortane in Finland, Aalto started his studies in Helsinki where he studied until 1921. Not much later, in 1923, he started his own architectural firm. At that time Alvar Aalto was mainly occupied with the classical architecture style before he slowly inclined towards the modern style around 1927. This was mainly due to inspiration he gained during his various journeys through Europe. There were also other architects who he gained inspiration from such as Charles-Édouard Jeanneret (also known as Le Corbusier) and Walter Gropius. Despite the fact that it was clear that he was inspired by these architects, an individual style was created in his works.

His heritage

Most of the buildings designed by Alvar Aalto can be found in Finland. But also in Italy, Germany, America and France, he has left his mark. His most famous building is Paimio's sanatorium in Finland he designed after winning an architectural competition in 1929. In addition, famous buildings designed by Aalto are the "Finlandia hall" in Helsinki, a beautiful concert hall of white marble, and the Technical University in Helsinki (now under the name of "Aalto University). The Finnish architect also designed many state buildings such as hospitals, theaters, museums and libraries. The style of Alvar Aalto is characterized by functionalism. This means that the construction and appearance of the building are based on the function that the building has. Characteristic of Aalto's work was also the way in which spaces overflowed. He did this through many curved walls and the original use of different, natural, materials in his works.

Most famous furniture pieces

Not only was Alvar Aalto a brilliant architect of various buildings around the world, he also designed several pieces of furniture that quickly became the starting point of several interior designers. During the design of the sanatorium his career began as a furniture designer. The whole building was furnished with furniture designed by Aalto, including all the lighting. His biggest work, according to Aalto himself, was to design the L leg. Thanks to this shape, the legs could be attached directly to the chairs and table tops. Aalto worked in various fields and is also known for his different and elegant lights that were designed for building projects and were later also produced for series production. Aalto was also fascinated by glassware and designed the famous Aalto tulip vase, one of the most iconic glass works in Finnish design. The way Aalto designed his furniture was unique and the simple lines are still one of the biggest starting points for the Scandinavian design. The use of wood also derives from the ideas of Aalto that contact between the skin of people and natural materials has a positive effect.

Stool Alvar Aalto
Alvar Aalto vase

Maison louis Carré

Maison louis Carré

The history

Alvar Aalto designed most of its buildings in Finland, his native country. However, there are also a number of buildings in other European countries and one of these buildings is the Maison Louis Carré. This building can be found close to a small town near Paris called Bazoches-sur-Guyanne. The building was designed by Aalto for Louis Carré, a French art seller and collector. The house was finished in 1959 and the swimming pool next to the house in 1963.


The house is a work of art in itself and the combination of the interior, exterior, garden and furniture make it a beautiful piece of art and in my opinion one of his most beautiful works. The Maison Carré is also the last building of Aalto in France and can now be viewed as a museum. There are regular exhibitions by various artists. The style of Aalto and what he stood for as an artist is perfectly reflected in the architecture of the house, the interior design and the playful way of using natural materials.

Maison louis Carré interior

Get inspired by the Scandinavian style from the Maison Louis Carré!

Now that you have learned more about this unique and extremely creative Finnish architect, you hopefully got inspired and interested in the timeless Scandinavian style. The simple lines that are used and the retro style can be used in different decoration styles. Take a look at the different furniture from the Finnish architect and consider what could be an addition to your decoration.

Hopefully you have enjoyed this little peak at the life of this Finnish legend like me and you know a bit more about the Scandinavian design and its origins. The influence of Aalto on the modern Scandinavian style is immense and his legacy on the world of architects and furniture design will, hopefully, still exist for a long time.

Photos credits
Alvar Aalto: www.alvaraalto.fi
Martti Kapanen, Alvar Aalto Museum: architectsjournal.co.uk
YouTube: www.youtube.com
Martti Kapanen, Alvar Aalto Museum: architectsjournal.co.uk
Martti Kapanen, Alvar Aalto Museum: architectsjournal.co.uk
Alvar Aalto: atomic-ranch.com

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Around the table

Take advantage of new offersOn 30 models of dining tables, coffee tables, consoles and side tables