Enough Said

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By Diana Budds / Published by Dwell
For the Finnish furniture company Artek, packaging is a medium for its message of enduring design.

Alvar Aalto designed the Stool 60 for Artek in 1933, and it’s been in continuous production ever since. Its persistent appeal represents Artek’s values of long-term durability, high-quality manufacturing, and clean formal language in furniture design. To relay those tenets, Artek worked with 358, a Finnish creative agency, on a branding campaign that extended to its packaging and marketing materials.

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“The packaging can be seen as a vehicle of our values: functionality, sustainability, natural materials, aesthetics, ethics, and ecology.”—Marianne Goebl, global director of Artek

"When purchasing a product, it’s the whole experience that matters, and packaging has a big role to play in this," says Marianne Goebl, Artek’s global director. "Creating packaging that also functions as a medium was our goal."

The company ships its wares internationally, and flat-packing the stools fulfills many logistical requirements from the macro scale down to how people take them home. "It’s the modern way of buying furniture," Goebl says. "The carry-away philosophy is about accessibility, and having a handle in the box was a very important part of the package." Artek opted to use cardboard as the main material because of its robustness and ability to be recycled.

One of the slogans the company developed in concert with 358 is emblazoned in black lettering on the white box, the monochromatic scheme being at the core of Artek’s brand identity. One of the company’s mantras, "One Chair Is Enough" is about being conscious of what you buy—a concept Goebl refers to as "a ‘less is more’ kind of thinking." When the campaign was developed, "you already started sensing that people were getting tired of fast consumption and started seeking more authentic design experiences," she says. This ethos is carried through to the type, which is Futura, a sans-serif font developed in the 1920s. "A new cut of Futura is popular today, but we insisted on keeping the original, paying tribute to Alvar Aalto, who used it in the first Artek logo," Goebl says. 

One encounters few bells or whistles while unpacking the stool. Goebl points out that the first thing one sees when opening the box is a certificate of authenticity signed by the person who packed the product—a telling element of Artek’s governing ethics.