In 1935, Alvar and Aino Aalto, Maire Gullichsen, and Nils-Gustav Hahl founded the Finnish furniture manufacturer Artek (Art and Technology) to produce furniture, textiles, and lamps that upheld the main tenets of the International Style. Initially established to produce furnishings for Alvar’s architectural endeavors, Artek’s innovation in bent plywood became increasingly popular with the public both in Finland and abroad. For more than 70 years, the company has continued producing the same stock of quality products.
Tom Dixon—–the designer who claims to have fallen in love with welding because "it had none of the seriousness of craft and none of the pomposity of design; it was industry"—–seems at once the least likely and most apt choice to lead Artek into the 21st century. Dixon became Artek’s creative director through a partnership he and David Begg (who founded the Tom Dixon company) entered into with the private investment firm Proventus in 2004 to form Design Research, which owns and manages both the Tom Dixon and Artek brands. As he explained to Dwell in an interview, Dixon has set out to renew Artek’s commitment to innovation while exercising a healthy dose of reverence for its tradition, in terms of both sustainability and design.