Alvar Aalto created a lasting legacy in modern design as an architect and designer. Aalto entered exhibitions and participated in innovative urban planning conferences, designed civic and cultural buildings, and conceptualized household furniture and objects. All of his projects, whether the Viipuri Library, the Paimio Chair, or the Aalto vase demonstrated Alvar Aalto’s philosophy of clean-lined functionality and inspiration from nature. He is known for organic form in his designs, preferring natural wood for its "form-inspiring, profoundly human material". An avid traveler, many of Alvar Aalto’s works are inspired by traditions and trends from all across Europe and the United States, yet retain a distinctly Finnish influence.
Alvar Aalto’s dedication to thoughtful, artful, and practical design was recognized with prestigious awards, including a first place win at the 1937 Paris World’s Fair for his iittala Savoy Vase. Alvar and Aino Aalto cofounded Artek with a top client in 1935 in order to bring their modern furniture, lighting and décor to an international community. Alvar Aalto’s contributions to Artek and iittala continue to be household furniture and objects that are both revered and enjoyed daily.
Born in Finland in 1898, Alvar Aalto created an empire that has thrived long after his death in 1976. Aalto opened his own firm shortly after graduation from Helsinki University of Technology. It was at his firm that he met his first wife, Aino Marsio Aalto, who produced her own iconic architecture and design work until her death in 1949. Alvar Aalto married fellow architect and assistant Elissa Mäkiniemi Aalto in 1952, who completed several projects after his death, including the Essen Opera House, and donated his sketches for design research.