iittala Designer Series: Alvar Aalto

Alvar Aalto, one of the premier designers for iittala (and the main subject of our iittala event this week!) was born in Kurotane, Finland in 1898. As a young man, he attended Helsinki Institute of Technology, where he got an architecture degree in 1921. Shortly after becoming an architect, Alvar started his first architectural practice in Jyväskylä. Early in his architecture career, he followed the tenets of Nordic Classicism, which was a prominent design style at the time. Over the years, he and wife Aino Aalto traveled repeatedly to Europe, where they started to become familiar with more modern design.Alvar Aalto

Throughout his career, Alvar came to be known as the master of modern architecture, given his unique design style and unparalleled talent. He adopted the principals of user-friendly, functional design in his work, and was inspired by organic forms and natural materials. His designs went on to create a variety of building projects, including concert halls, libraries, hospitals, museums, private homes and more. As early as the 1930’s, Aalto’s work was already being displayed in places like the New York Museum of Modern Art, and he even has a piece of architecture in the Cambridge, MA neighborhood.

Alvar treated each building he designed as a complete project, where he had a hand in every aspect of the project from initial design blueprints to interior decorating, and everything in between. As his career progressed, he experimented with new materials, and in 1936 he won the Karhula-Iittala glassware design competition, which gave him his start with the iittala organization.

While Aalto was primarily an architect, he did produce some pieces that were intended to be used in building structures, but ended up taking a life of their own. These pieces include the famous Aalto vase, an iittala icon to this day. On his own, and sometimes in conjunction with his wife and fellow iittala designer Aino Aalto, he worked on a variety of home décor objects.

Alvar Aalto Large VaseAlvar Aalto Vase


Today, the works of Alvar Aalto are still celebrated around the world. From our collection of Aalto vases, to the Alvar Aalto Museum in Jyväskylä, Finland, there is a strong appreciation for Alvar Aalto's work and his timeless design. We invite you to come take part in a celebration of his work and others at our event on March 8th!