All posts tagged: Alvar Aalto

Maison Louis Carré by Alvar Aalto

Inside Maison Louis Carré by Alvar Aalto

Maison Louis Carré – Finnish architect Alvar Aalto’s only remaining building in France – is a modernist architectural masterpiece situated about an hour outside of Paris. Open to the public from March to November, it’s a must-visit, Scandinavian gem for architecture and design buffs looking to get a deeper insight into his design process. As an avid Aalto fan myself, I’d already visited his home and studio in Helsinki, and was keen to step off the beaten tourist trail of Paris and step inside another Aalto interior, which combined architecture, furniture and design into a total work of art. The house is located in the remote village of Bazoches-sur-Guyonne and was the home of French art dealer Louis Carré. He acquired the sloping site in 1955 and the following year met Aalto at the Venice Biennale while the architect was supervising his pavilion there. They immediately bonded over their love of fine things – fine art, good wine, the good life – and became friends for life. Carré commissioned Aalto to design him a house that could serve both as a private …

The making of Alvar Aalto's famous vase

Your Home Needs This: Alvar Aalto vase

My series ‘Your Home Needs This’ is all about profiling beautiful design classics and timeless pieces of furniture that I feel everyone should have in their home. And this one is the perfect example – the Alvar Aalto vase, produced by Finnish glass manufacturer Iittala. If I had to name my favourite piece of design, ever, this would be it. It’s by my favourite architect and designer, Alvar Aalto, and it’s my favourite object at home. I love its soft, sinuous form that makes it truly unique – there’s nothing quite like filling it with flowers and enjoying its sculptural shape day after day. The Aalto vase has become a true classic in Scandinavian design, found in the homes of every Finn and in museum collections across the world. Compared to the highly decorative objects being made at the time the vase was first created, the organic shape of the vase was a revolutionary statement. Inspired by waves in water (Aalto means ‘wave’ in Finnish), it’s a simple design whose tactility appeals to the senses. It’s lost none of its allure …


Your Home Needs This #02: Alvar Aalto Stool 60

Hello, and hope you like the new look of the blog! It needed a bit of an update and I’m a little bit in love with this new wordpress theme, it allows me to do so much more. I hope you like it too. This is also my second post in the series ‘Your Home Needs This’, an (almost) weekly series profiling one must-have design object that is on my wishlist or in my own home – you know, objects and furniture that beautiful, but functional and timeless too (see the first post here, it featured the Vitra Toolbox). This week, it’s the turn of the stool 60 from Artek, one of my favourite pieces of furniture in my own London flat. It’s also by my all-time favourite Finnish architect, Alvar Aalto. Created in 1933, the simple, but perfectly formed, stool is based on a round seat and three quintessentially Aalto, bent plywood legs. It can be stacked up and is incredibly versatile, whether for a bathroom stool, bedside table, coffee table or dining chair. It’s the perfect height …


I wish I lived here: A nordic home by Vitra and Artek

During a sunny Saturday last week, I visited the relatively unknown Villa Hager on the Vitra campus in Weil am Rhein, near Basel. It is my dream house, three storeys of designs by the Finnish masters – Aalto, Tapiovaara, Kukkapuro – as well as contemporary designers such as Konstantin Grcic, Hella Jongerius, and Barber Osgerby, all curated by Artek for an imaginary family of four. The idea is to showcase Vitra furniture alongside Artek products for the first time in one unique but seemingly real-life setting (Vitra acquired Artek last September). When I visited, the sun was streaming in, showing off the simple shapes and strong patterns of the designs, some familiar, others new this year. There’s a multi-functional kitchen with a dining table set for eight, alongside a vintage Aalto poster and the Bouroullec’s inviting turquoise sofa (one of my favourite rooms). Meanwhile, the living room is divided into two, with Aalto’s chairs clad in a racy zebra print and a new shelving system-cum-room divider by Barber & Osgerby. A small side room, even sunnier than the rest of the house, cleverly uses Bouroullec’s Corniche shelves for plants and …


Travel: Vitra Campus, Weil am Rhein

Last week I was lucky enough to make the pilgrimage to the campus of Swiss furniture manufacturer Vitra, set in the bucolic surroundings of Weil Am Rhein, a short drive from Basel in Switzerland. If you are as addicted to design as me, this is an absolute must-visit; an architectural theme park with work by some of the most well-known architects in the world, such as Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid and Tadao Ando. It requires a day, if not two, to see the current exhibition, join an architectural tour, take a ride down Carsten Holler’s new slide, stop for a coffee, and of course, visit the shop. It all started in 1981 after a major fire destroyed most of the factory buildings built in the 1950s. Since then the site has grown organically, with a fire station by Zaha Hadid (her first built project), a bus stop by Jasper Morrison, factory buildings by SANAA, Alvaro Siza and Nicholas Grimshaw and a petrol station by Jean Prouve, to name a few. First stop, VitraHaus, a jumble of house shaped blocks designed …


Alvar Aalto at Pitzhanger Manor

An exhibition on my favourite architect Alvar Aalto is currently on at Pitzhanger Manor in Ealing. (In 2011 I made a bit of a pilgrimage to Finland to see his work, such as his studio here and his house here, which you can see in previous posts if you want to find out a bit more about him). Reason & Intuition: Alvar Aalto & Ola Kolehmainen places Aalto’s creations around the historic rooms of Sir John Soane’s country villa. You think it wouldn’t work– placing Finnish modernism in an 18th century house– but I loved the interaction between old and new. In the breakfast room there is some of his glasswork, including the ‘Savoy’– so-called because Aalto and his wife Aino used it in their interior for the Savoy restaurant in Helsinki– and the Aalto flower, a set of stackable vases designed for the 1939 New York World’s Fair. In the library there is his table and chairs, while the small drawing room has two fascinating films on his home in Helsinki’s Munkkiniemi neighbourhood and his …


Stop Look Listen: Three things to do this week

Here’s my pick of three things to do this week, including an exhibition on writer Virginia Woolf at the National Portrait Gallery, another on my favourite Finnish architect Alvar Aalto, and a lighthearted French film set on the island of Île de Ré. STOP What: Virginia Woolf: Art, Life and Vision Where: National Portrait Gallery, London When: Until October 26 Opening this week is an exhibition dedicated to one of the most celebrated women writers of the twentieth century- Virginia Woolf. It will explore her life and achievements as a novelist, intellectual, campaigner and public figure through portraits (by Bloomsbury Group contemporaries Vanessa Bell and Roger Fry) and rare archival material including letters, diaries and books. LOOK What: Reason & Intuition: Alvar Aalto & Ola Kolehmainen in Soane Where: Pitzhanger Manor, London When: Until April 28 Coming to Sir John Soane’s 19th century country villa in Ealing, Pitzhanger Manor, this exhibition brings together the work of my favourite architect Alvar Aalto and contemporary Finnish artist Ola Kolehmainen. While Aalto’s creations such as his Paimio Chair and the sculptural Beehive ceiling lamp …

mid century modern 18

I wish I lived here: Mid-century modern house tour

This lovely sunny home in Gothenburg, Sweden, features a largely intact white 1930s kitchen, even the gas powered fridge remains (though not in use). The owners have kept the theme of mid-century modern throughout the home, with parquet floors, what looks like Ercol furniture, and other vintage finds. One of my favourite spaces though, is the small balcony, largely because it echoes my own efforts to make my balcony a green retreat (see my previous post on balcony gardening). Images: Stadshem


Saunalahti School, Finland by Verstas Architects

As readers of this blog will know, I am a sucker for anything Scandinavian, and that includes it’s architecture. Helsinki-based Verstas Architects has completed a new school in Espoo, Finland’s second largest city. Saunalahti is an entirely new neighbourhood of Espoo. The new school provides a social meeting point for the families living in the area, with classroom spaces as well as a day care centre, preschool and a youth house. The school also houses a public library and in the evenings and weekends the workshop classrooms, gymnastics spaces and school playground are used by the locals and several clubs. “The openness and the sense of community can also be seen in the architecture”, explains architect Ilkka Salminen. “The heart of the building, the multi-purpose dining hall is the space where all users meet. It opens up to the large school yard like an amphitheatre.” The building itself is formed of fair-face concrete walls and smooth, curving oak veneered ceilings- sensitive and natural materials that remind me of Alvar Aalto’s work. A large glass wall connects the school …


The Magic of Modernism: Alvar Aalto’s stool celebrates its 80th anniversary

I went on a month-long trip to Scandinavia the summer before last, mainly for a little Alvar Aalto pilgrimage to see his architecture and furniture in Finland. You can see a post I wrote on his studio in Tiilimaki, Helsinki here, as well as, a post on his house in Riihitie, Helsinki here. Now, furniture producer Artek are celebrating the 80th anniversary of Aalto’s three-legged Stool 60 by re-releasing the stool in two new colourful editions. The simple, stackable wooden stools were created when Alvar Aalto repeatedly threw the prototype of his three-legged stool to the floor at the Korhonen furniture factory to test its sturdiness. He shouted excitedly: “We’ll make thousands of these one day!”. Aalto spent several years perfecting the curved, L-shaped legs of the stool in collaboration with the technical experts form the Korhonen furniture company. Little did he know that they would become a design classic and go on to sell millions of copies. The new colourful stools released by Artek feature the hues Aalto used at the Paimio Sanatorium, a former …