Collection by Sam Grawe

Alvar Aalto in Lights


International Style architect Alvar Aalto is undoubtedly Finland's best-known design export, and is often cited for his mastery of natural light. Less often discussed is his role as a designer of electric lighting—critical to the enjoyment of Finnish interior environments during the long dark winter months.

Coming from an age when architects were responsible for not only designing buildings, but often everything within, Aalto designed hundreds of light fixtures over the course of his career—usually creating a custom fixture to lend each new project a distinct character. Many of these were adapted for the commercial market and sold through Artek, the company he founded with his first wife Aino. On a recent visit to his Atelier and private home in the Munkkiniemi neighborhood of Helsinki, we cataloged Aalto's various lights—many of which were experiments that would be adapted and later customized to work with a particular project. Click the yellow slideshow button in the upper right corner to see for yourself.

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