Vitra Design Museum hosts Alvar Aalto retrospective

Vitra Design Museum hosts Alvar Aalto retrospective

The Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein is hosting a major retrospective exhibition of work by late Finnish Modernist architect and designer Alvar Aalto, a year after Vitra's acquisition of Aalto's furniture company Artek (+ slideshow).

Vitra Design Museum to host Alvar Aalto retrospective
Second Nature exhibition at Vitra Design Museum

The Second Nature exhibition at Vitra Design Museum covers Aalto's life work, from his best-known buildings and designs to lesser known projects, aiming to reveal new aspects of his designs.

Vitra Design Museum to host Alvar Aalto retrospective

The retrospective encompasses the full range of scales used by the architect – who died in 1976 – from large urban planning developments down to the door handles and light fixtures created for the interiors of his buildings.

Vitra Design Museum to host Alvar Aalto retrospective
Second Nature exhibition at Vitra Design Museum

It also features his iconic plywood furniture pieces, such as the Stool 60, the Paimio Lounge Chair and the 900 Tea Cart.

Vitra Design Museum to host Alvar Aalto retrospective
Second Nature exhibition at Vitra Design Museum

Some of Aalto's architectural projects, including the 1935 Vyborg Library in Russia, have been captured specially for the exhibition by German photographer and film maker Armin Linke.

Vitra Design Museum to host Alvar Aalto retrospective
Maison Louis Carré, Bazoches-sur-Guyonne, France, 1956-1959, 1961-1963. Photograph by Armin Linke

"A building by Aalto is like a kaleidoscope. You cannot capture it from a 90-degree angle," Linke told the exhibition's curator Jochen Eisenbrand.

Vitra Design Museum to host Alvar Aalto retrospective
Viipuri (Vyborg) City Library, Vyborg, Karelia (today Russia), 1927-1935. Image courtesy of the Alvar Aalto Museum. Photograph by Gustaf Welin

The exhibition is divided into four sections, each focussed on a different theme in Aalto's life and work, with a loose chronological order.

Vitra Design Museum to host Alvar Aalto retrospective
Viipuri (Vyborg) City Library, Vyborg, Karelia (today Russia) 1927-1935. Image courtesy of the Alvar Aalto Museum. Photograph by Gustaf Welin

The first space is dedicated to his early work as it evolved towards Modernism, up to the design of the Paimio Sanatorium, completed in 1933.

Vitra Design Museum to host Alvar Aalto retrospective
Tuberculosis sanatorium, Paimio, Finland, 1928-1933. Image courtesy of the Alvar Aalto Museum

In the second space, Aalto's relationship with art and artists of his time is examined.

Vitra Design Museum to host Alvar Aalto retrospective
Mobile by Alexander Calder, 1930s. Image courtesy of the Ateneum Art Museum Finnish National Gallery. Photograph by Janne Mäkinen

Pieces by Alexander Calder and Jean Arp are used to demonstrate this, presented alongside Aalto's 1930s Villa Mairea in Noormarkku, Finland and his 1950s Maison Louis Carré in Bazoches-sur-Guyonne, France.

Vitra Design Museum to host Alvar Aalto retrospective
Stool 60, 1933. Image courtesy of the Vitra Design Museum. Photograph by Jürgen Hans

The third space displays furniture, glassware and lighting produced by Aalto's company Artek, which he founded with his first wife Aino and two collaborators in 1935 to manufacture and promote his own designs.

Vitra Design Museum to host Alvar Aalto retrospective
Tea trolley 900, 1937. Image courtesy of the Vitra Design Museum. Photograph by Jürgen Hans

These items were made in a factory in Finland that Artek purchased in January after being acquired by Swiss furniture company Vitra.

Vitra Design Museum to host Alvar Aalto retrospective
Manufacturing of Aalto furniture at Oy Huonekalu-ja Rakennustyötehdas Ab, Turku, Finland. Image courtesy of the Alvar Aalto Museum. Photograph by Mauno Mannelin

Large-scale architecture and urban planning projects are presented in the fourth and final space.

Vitra Design Museum to host Alvar Aalto retrospective
Apartment House Hansaviertel, Berlin, 1955-1957. Image courtesy of the Alvar Aalto Museum. Photograph by Karl ind Thelma Toelle

These include the 1940s Baker House student dormitory at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), an apartment building in Berlin's Hansaviertel – built as part of the Interbau building exhibition in 1957 – and the Wolfsburg Cultural Centre completed in 1962.

Vitra Design Museum to host Alvar Aalto retrospective
Alvar Aalto in front of the Finnish Pavilion, World’s Fair New York, USA, 1939. Image courtesy of the Alvar Aalto Museum. Photography by Eino Mäkinen

The exhibition runs until 1 March 2015 at the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany.