Alvar Aalto (1898-1976) is a recognized master of modern architecture and design. Born in Kuortane, Finland, Aalto began to make his distinct mark in design shortly after receiving his architectural degree from Helsinki Polytechnic in 1921. In 1924, Aalto married fellow architect Aino Marsio, creating a lifelong partnership that built an international design legacy. During his remarkable career, Aalto designed major public institutions including concert halls, museums, universities, libraries as well as private homes throughout the world. Aalto’s furniture and houseware designs derived organically from his architectural work.
Aalto’s unique aesthetic helped to define Finnish design as well as introduce it to a global audience. Aalto hallmarks include a harmonious relationship with nature, functionalism combined with beauty, excellent attention to details and an ingenious use of materials. Aalto’s designs were already being exhibited internationally as early as the 1930s, including at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. When Aalto premiered his “Savoy Vase” at the 1930 New York World’s Fair, it instantly caused a sensation with its dynamic wavy design that was as alive and fluid as the Finnish lakes that inspired it. The legendary vase is one of the world’s most famous glass objects and remains a timeless staple for Iittala.