Studioilse, led by designer Ilse Crawford, curated the installation at Swiss firm Vitra's Herzog & de Meuron-designed showroom – the first joint showcase since the brand acquired Finnish company Artek in September last year.
"The VitraHaus loft was going to be redone for the fourth time and I felt that this would be a fantastic opportunity to display Artek as a natural addition to the Vitra project," said Nora Fehlbaum, a member of Vitra's board of directors.
The loft has been arranged as the home of imaginary Finnish-German couple Harri and Astrid – a musician and set designer whose apartment is "filled with objects that tell the story of their lives".
Studioilse wanted to present the furniture as part of a lived-in environment rather than in a traditional showroom.
"We wanted to think beyond the furniture and lighting and beyond the bland commercialisation of design, to convey real life in all its layers and eccentricities," said Crawford.
On display are famous designs like Stool 60 and Paimio Armchair 41 by Modernist architect Alvar Aalto, who co-founded Artek in 1935.
The space is cluttered with books and ornaments, while photographs and colour samples are pinned to a cork-lined wall.
Canvases, brushes and other artist's materials are grouped into a studio setup in one part of the loft, which has wooden floors throughout and is naturally lit by the building's large gable windows.
"It was vital to bring out the intellectual spirit of the minds and hands that made these things," said Crawford. "These pieces are stories of real life and courageous intentions to raise the quality of everyday living. To see them as museum exhibits or sales units is a profound injustice to their creators."
Earlier this year, Artek bought the factory in Finland where Aalto developed his furniture.
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