The armchair 401 was designed by Alvar Aalto for Artek in 1933. As many other Aalto classics, the lightweight and streamlined armchair 401 was designed for the Paimio Sanatorium. Its calm appearance was well suited for the Sanatorium, and the high back and small wings adjoining the headrest offered privacy for the patients. Both armrests of the chair have been cut from the same piece of form-bent birch lamella, ensuring that the armchair will stay stable over time. A sprung seat makes the chair pleasant to sit on.

Still crafted from Finnish birch in traditional methods, the upholstered armchair 401 has been a part of Finnish interiors for many decades, and in the 21st century, it continues to charm new generations.


Aalto armchair 401, white



3–4 months


62,5 cm
80 cm
105 cm
Seat height
40 cm
Frame material
Natural lacquered birch, zig-zag springs, polyurethane foam, polyester wadding
Upholstery fabric
Kvadrat Hallingdal: 70% New wool, 30% viscose
Abrasion resistance
100 000 Martindale

Alvar Aalto

Alvar Aalto (1898-1976) is probably the most famous Finnish architect and designer in the world. In 1921 Alvar Aalto got the Diploma of Architecture at the Helsinki Institute of Technology and his career as an architect started. One of the most important works he was commissioned was the planning of the tuberculosis sanatorium in Paimio, Finland. This project meant also the beginning of Aalto’s career as a furniture designer – in fact, this was the first building planned by Aalto which was entirely furnished with pieces of furniture designed by Aalto himself – including the lighting as well. Other important projects completed by Alvar Aalto are the Viipuri Municipal Library, Villa Mairea, La Maison Carré and the Finnish Pavilions for the 1937 Paris and 1939 New York World Fairs.

In 1935 Alvar Aalto, together with Aino Aalto, Maire Gullichsen and Nils-Gustav Hahl, founded Artek, a world-renowned furniture and lighting company. The company was created "to sell furniture" – designed by Alvar Aalto – "and to promote modern culture of habitation by exhibitions and other means". 

One of the most ingenious innovations by Alvar Aalto is the L-leg, patented in 1933. Aalto considered his L-leg design his greatest achievement and even compared it to the invention of the architectonic column. Thanks to this innovation, the legs could be attached directly to the table, chair and stool tops. Alvar Aalto was a versatile designer whose work covered different fields. He is well-known also for his elegant lamps, which very often were designed for individual construction projects and later on adapted for the serial production. Alvar Aalto was also an esteemed glass designer and his most famous work as a glass designer is the Aalto vase (or Savoy vase) – one of the most iconic glassware pieces in Finnish design.

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