Alvar Aalto x twentytwentyone | Anniversary Editions
In collaboration with Artek, twentytwentyone have revisited early incarnations of the Stool 60 and the Aalto Tea Trolley to create new, anniversary editions of the seminal designs to celebrate our 25th anniversary.
Stool 60 Karelian Birch - Designed by Alvar Aalto, 1933
The special edition of Stool 60 is made of Karelian birch, a particularly rare variant of silver birch, and carefully crafted in more than 40 steps of production, then finished in a warm honey-toned, water-based stain.
Karelian birch timber only reveals itself after a tree is cut, the unique grain presents irregular, wavy annual rings which create a fiery pattern. This variant of birch, also known as curly birch, is mostly found in Finland's easternmost Karelia region. The rarity of Karelian birch makes each stool one of a kind, showcasing each tree's particular grain pattern.
Tea Trolley 901 - design by Alvar Aalto, 1936
The tea trolley was inspired by British tea culture, which the architects Aino and Alvar Aalto had encountered on their many travels and by the Japanese woodwork and architecture, they admired. The much-loved design remains resolutely modern, even 85 years after its conception.
Referencing the Artek archive, the special edition of the Tea Trolley is made of natural birch with a honey-toned water-based lacquer with a black-stained handle and white wheels. Each trolley is marked with a brass plaque and is exclusively available at twentytwentyone, Artek Helsinki and Artek Tokyo.
Aalto Furniture and the UK:
Aino and Alvar Aalto’s furniture made its international debut in London. “Wood Only,” the first show dedicated to the Aaltos’ designs, opened at Fortnum + Mason on 13 November 1933. Organised by the architectural writer Philip Morton Shand and Architectural Review editor Hubert de Cronin Hastings, the exhibition opening attracted illustrious guests, including poet John Betjeman, artist László Moholy-Nagy, and the Aaltos themselves. Favourable reviews, including in The Times, led to considerable commercial success and substantial orders for Aalto furniture.
By December 1933, the company Finmar Limited was established as the sole importer of Aalto furniture in the United Kingdom.
The “Wood Only” exhibition included Aalto staples like the Paimio Chair, Armchair 401, Stool 60, and L-leg tables. The success of this furniture in 1930s Britain reflected a burgeoning demand for elegant, flexible, durable, wooden and (at the time) inexpensive modern pieces. In that context, Aalto furniture played an active role in the formation of British modernism that would later flourish in the progressive post-war period.
In 1935, the Aaltos and a group of like-minded idealists founded Artek in order “to sell furniture and to promote a modern culture of living by exhibitions and other educational means.” The Helsinki-based company became the distributor of Aalto furniture worldwide and has maintained strong relationships with partners in the UK ever since.