Throughout his career Alvar Aalto fostered the concept of the Gesamtkunstwerk: a total work, in which architecture, design and art merge and are united in a whole work. This is very much evident in the building, which Aalto created for Kunsten.
Aalto designed not only award-winning buildings, but also design products, which over the years have become classics. Despite the fact that his design products were often created for specific buildings, many of them are still manufactured and sold today. Whereas today Aalto’s buildings have exclusive international status, his furniture is ‘democratic’. Aalto’s aim was to create and mass-produce furniture for many people at reasonable prices.
Aalto managed to be both exclusive and popular. Around the 1970s, Denmark was the Finnish architect’s major customer, so you are more than likely to have come across some of Aalto’s furniture in private homes. Aalto’s Paimio Chair and Savoy Vase (also known as the Aalto Vase) are particularly acclaimed throughout the world. Aalto’s design products are iconic and have been exhibited in some of the world’s major Museums, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Museum für Gestaltung in Zurich.
In Kunsten you will find both design products that were created for the building and products that are, and were being mass-produced when the Museum came into existence. You can discover and try out many of them when you visit the Museum – everything from tables, chairs and lamps to smaller utility items such as vases, candlesticks and chopping boards. They all help underpin the holistic experience of the building, at which Aalto aimed in his work.