The Artek Open Archives

My loved ones over Christmas were kind enough to buy me several books that I’ve been yearning for over the past year, firstly ‘Dieter Rams: As Little Design as Possible’ which I’ve yet to dig into, and also ‘Alvar Aalto, Through the Eyes of Shigeru Ban’ which is one I’m currently reading. Even though it’s extremely long, a few paragraphs into the book and it got me thinking about his career and what influenced it, a company that he founded came to mind named Artek.

The Finish designer, who’s now recognised today as one of the great masters of modern architecture, set up Artek in 1935 to market and sell his own and his wife’s, Aino Aalto, furniture, lamps and textiles. As my brain was ticking I thought it would be worth my while checking out the artek website to see if I could find a chronological order of his furniture and how his styling progressed over time. Luckily for me I found what I went looking for and I also came across the ‘Artek Open Archives’ which is an absolute treat.

Not only do you get to see older pieces of furniture it’s basically an image database that showcases past and present Artek interiors from all over the world. All sorts of exhibitions and generally features a lot of classic pieces that you may now know of due to his increase in popularity. An image that I couldn’t help but like was the one showcasing a shops window display with the date 1936 on the front, it just amazes me to see the pieces and how they can’t actually be pinpointed to one specific era. Transcendence comes to mind.

So today I picked out a bunch of photographs that I thought were really inspiring from the archives, I hope you like them too. To see more like this hit the website link below, I warn you now though! You may be surfing for hours.


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  • Hassel

    Half of the furniture featured in this post are designed by Finnish designer Ilmari Tapiovaara not by Aalto himself. They are not original Artek pieces, but were originally produced by another Finnish company called Laukaan Puu. The rights to Ilmari Tapiovaara’s designs were quite recently bought by Artek.

    Nice post and great pics anyway. I just thought this should be mentioned since the post focused on Aalto and Artek.

  • Mark Robinson

    Thanks for commenting. You’re indeed correct. I didn’t mean to say that all of these pieces were designed by Alvar Aalto, instead I was pointing out Artek as a company and Alvar being my inspiration for looking on the web page.

  • Andrew

    I’m glad Hassel made that point, I was going to mention as much. My grandparents are from the small town of Laukaa (see Laukaan Puu comment) and my grandfather took the original press photos for the designs which I have proudly framed on my wall at home. Thanks for bringing the designs to a wider audiance

  • Mark Robinson

    Thanks for the compliment … I tried my best!

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