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"Model No. 41" Lounge Chair

Alvar Aalto (Finnish, Kuortane 1898–1976 Helsinki)

Oy. Huonekalu-Ja Rakennustyötehdas AB
Laminated Birch
H. 26 1/2, W. 24, D. 36 in. (67.3 x 61.0 x 91.4 cm) 21 lb (9.5 kg)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Friends of Twentieth Century Decorative Arts Gifts, by exchange, 2000
Accession Number:
  • Description

    This chair, designed for Aalto's Paimio Sanatorium of 1929-32, demonstrates the radical possibilities of bentwood in its graceful, scrolling form, devoid of right angles and sharp geometry. In designing this chair for use in the sanatorium, Aalto sought to create a form that would be both mentally and physically soothing to patients, and aid in their recuperation. Like his European peers, the Finnish Aalto was deeply interested in exploring new manufacturing techniques and uses of materials in his pursuit of modern furniture design, favoring light, dematerialized forms with dramatic cantilevers. However, whereas many of his colleagues explored the formal potential of tubular steel, Aalto preferred the warmth and tactility of wood. In this design, he experimented with plywood and molded birch from his native Finland. The seat and back are fashioned from the same piece of molded wood, which terminates in volutes at either end, functioning as both structure and decorative element.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Marking: Marked: retailer's ivorine label attached at underside of seat: FINMAR LTD./ MADE IN FINLAND; stamped (faded) on underside of seat: MADE IN FINLAND; stamped on underside of proper right armrest: AALTO DESIGN/ MADE IN FINLAND.

  • Provenance

    Christie's South Kensington, Important Design Sale, 14 June, 2000

  • References

    Ostergard, Derek (ed.). Bentwood and Metal Furniture 1850-1946, New York: AFA, 1987, p. 309.

    Pearson, Paul David. Alvar Aalto and the International Style. New York: Whitney Library of Design, 1976, p. 143.

  • See also