Artek is an iconic Finnish furniture manufacturer, best known for coveted classics such as the Aalto stool and the Beehive lamp. Humane values and an innovative attitude have made Artek a globally known brand, whose products carry on the legacy of its founders in an unforgettable way.
DICTIONARY OF Nordic design is a column for introducing and highlighting important brands and designers, who have shaped Finnish and Scandinavian design. The first brand to be showcased is Finnish furniture manufacturer, Artek.
Artek was founded in 1935 by four young idealists – Alvar and Aino Aalto, Nils-Gustav Hahl, and Maire Gullichsen. They published a design manifesto inspired by functionalism, stating that Artek’s aim was “to sell furniture and to promote a modern culture of habitation by exhibitions and other means”.
Since day one, Artek has stood its ground at the intersection of design, architecture, and art, making Finnish design and Alvar Aalto's furniture known all over the world.
Today, Artek's furniture and luminaires, such as the Aalto stools, chairs, and tables, form the cornerstone of Finnish design. The majority of Artek's furniture is still manufactured in Turku, Finland, where Artek has been manufacturing its products since the 1920s.
Artek’s original values – long-term durability, high quality, and clean, functional forms – are still at the company’s very core.
The most essential material used in the designs is Finnish wood, particularly birch and pine, which are processed with innovative woodworking techniques developed by Alvar Aalto.
Alvar and Aino Aalto gave contemporary furniture a signature look – a warm and gentle one, deeply inspired by Finnish nature. The use of natural materials and a humane approach, together with the constant search for new technical solutions, have made Artek a company whose values are still very much modern today.
Artek’s original values – long-term durability, high quality, and clean, functional forms – are still in the company’s core, and it hasn't lost its founders' radical and innovative attitude either.
- Artek was founded in 1935 by Aino and Alvar Aalto, Maire Gullichsen, and Nils-Gustav Hahl. The first Artek store opened in Helsinki a year later in 1936.
- The name Artek is a combination of the words art and technology.
- Artek's range is based on iconic products by Aino and Alvar Aalto, complemented with modern classics from contemporary designers such as Daniel Rybakken and TAF Studio.
- In 2010, Ilmari Tapiovaara's celebrated designs were added to Artek's selection.
- Artek has operated under Swiss manufacturer Vitra since 2013.
- All of Artek's bentwood furniture, such as the Aalto classics, are made in Turku, Finland.
Favorites from Artek
Text: Design Stories Images: Artek