Kabang! After a very nice bike trip from our apartment in the city center of Helsinki, we arrived in a residential neighborhood of the Finnish capital. There are no street signs that indicate where to find Alvar Aalto's studio, and seen from the street it hardly stands out. A handful of Japanese tourists wander in the neighborhood and when we ring the doorbell, a young woman tells us to wait until exactly 11:30 when the guided tour begins. We park our Pelago bikes and enjoy the sun and the frozen Baltic Sea.
At exactly 11:30 the woman welcomes us inside and with six Japanese people we are shown around Alvar Aalto's studio. The famous Finnish architect and designer (and sculptor, painter) designed the building at
"The principal space in the building is the curving studio which has a view opening onto the courtyard. Horizontal battens fixed to the high walls of the studio allowed drawings to be displayed there. The rear wall is covered with climbing plants reaching up to the high-level windows and prototypes of light fittings designed by Alvar Aalto are hung in front of the wall. The slanting bay window of the conference room with its rooflight creates the perfect conditions for examining models and drawings".
One of the (many!) eyecatchers in the room are the big trailing plants in the back. On the original photos from the 1960s the trailing plants are already there. It doesn't look like the exact same plant, but the aesthetic and trailing shapes are pretty much the same ♥
Plenty of classic Alvar Aalto stools 60 and beautiful cardboard boxes (now empty!) that were used to store architectural drawings:
The curve in the main room makes that you cannot see the entire room when you enter the space, there is room for mystery, in a very modest and humble way.
The first floor is dedicated to the real work. And yes, real work: because there's still a team of people working in the Alvar Aalto studio. The team of the Alvar Aalto Foundation works where designers and architects used to design buildings and furniture in previous decades. It's part museum with tools and prototypes of Alvar Aalto's projects, and part workspace. What a privilage to work in a studio like this!
Beautiful tools and light:
The famous layered plywood construction technique:
It's hard to be distracted by things outside when working in the studio upstairs: the windows are positioned very high:
Kabang! This is really a space that you should experience by yourself when you're in Helsinki. It's hard to catch the feeling and design in photos. Visiting Alvar Aalto's studio truly helped me to better understand the core values of Finnish design. The Alvar Aalto home is located at walking distance from the studio.