Armchair 41 – Artek
Alvar Aalto – 1932
Combining a traditional outline with a light, organic form,Armchair 41 – Artek, this revolutionary interpretation of the club chair set new standards in modern furniture design. Fixed to the frame at only four points, Armchair 41’s suspended seat appears to float and provides an astounding degree of elasticity. Since wood changes over time, the armrests are formed from a single piece that is then split in half, ensuring that as “Paimio” ages, it remains perfectly balanced. Designed by Alvar Aalto in 1932, Armchair 41 was created for the interior of a tuberculosis sanatorium in the Finnish city of Paimio and is considered one of Aalto’s masterpieces.
Some of Aalto’s most famous designs were first created for the Paimio Sanatorium as an integral part of what Aalto considered its “architectonic whole”. Yet they swiftly achieved universal status – so much so that many are still produced by Artek today. Armchair 41 – known as the Paimio chair – in particular has become an undisputed icon, entering the collection of every major design museum worldwide. As early as 1938, it was given pride of place at MoMA’s exhibition on Aalto in New York.
Armchair 41 set new standards in modern furniture design with its sculptural shape that tested the materiality of wood. Designed to aid recuperation and relaxation, the angle of the bent plywood back was considered ideal for the patients’ lungs and to promote easy breathing. The critical and commercial success of the Paimio Chair when displayed at London’s Fortnum & Mason store in 1933 helped lead to the founding of Artek, and it has remained in production ever since.
Aalto had hoped to create furniture that could help heal the patients at Paimio. He succeeded in creating humane designs that have been cherished for their beauty and function over decades.