Designer Tero Kuitunen appreciates the beautiful patina and classical design heritage of his Alvar Aalto vintage chairs. He found two of them at a stationery shop at his campus and one in front of a store in downtown Helsinki.
“I ACQUIRED THE PAIR of Aalto chairs around ten years ago, when still studying at the Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture. The campus was located in the Arabianranta district, and the ‘Kynä ja Paperi’ (Pen and Paper) shop was located downstairs. The business was something of an institution, serving as a stationery shop, café, shipment service, and small antique shop.
One day I struck it lucky, when I noticed two Artek 69 chairs in the shop. I was drawn to the chairs’ beautiful, honey-colored and patinated surfaces, and had them set aside for me. When I arrived the next day to collect the chairs, they were nowhere to be seen in the shop. It turned out that the owner had regretted putting them up for sale, because they were 30s originals still in their initial upholstery. However, I insisted on the agreed purchase, and the chairs wound up around our dining table.
“Although our chairs are from different decades and not identical, I think the trio still works beautifully as a whole.”
We found our third 69 chair abandoned in front of a shop in Helsinki. It was covered in paint stains, but easy to refurbish. Although our chairs are from different decades and not identical, I think the trio still works beautifully as a whole.
As a designer, I appreciate Alvar Aalto's design in general, and the look of the chairs, but as a young student I felt a certain desire to rebel against Aalto and the golden age of Finnish design. In my own work, I prize a multi-layered outcome: to highlight our valuable heritage while shaking up how we see and experience Finnish design in this era.”
Classic: Chair 69
- Alvar Aalto designed Chair 69 originally for the Viipuri library in 1935.
- The chair is made of solid birch and form-pressed birch lamella, and its design is based on Aalto's innovative L-leg.
- Artek manufactures Chair 69 in an array of finishes.
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Text and photos: Suvi Kesäläinen