Artek’s humble three-legged Stool 60, designed by Alvar Aalto, celebrates its 90th anniversary in 2023. This essential piece of furniture is still manufactured in Finland, employing a production process refined over time, with an extensive modernisation of the factory recently completed in time for the birthday. It’s definitely design worth celebrating.
Back story on a famous piece of furniture
In the late 1920s, the young architect Alvar Aalto met carpenter Otto Korhonen, who had a furniture production company close to Turku, Finland’s oldest city. There, they developed hugely-influential wood-bending techniques. That meant they could create organic shapes in solid and hard-wearing designs.
An process that changed stool design
Their major invention was the L-leg that was patented by Aalto in 1933, and known as “the little sister of the architectural column”. First used in Stool 60. it provided a key structural element for Aalto’s pioneering range of furniture made from Finnish birch. The L-leg soon expanded into a system of standard components used in more than 50 Artek products.
Speaking of important Finnish designers…
Forever connected to the Finnish forest
More than 80 per cent of Artek furniture, including Stool 60, is made from birch trees grown, felled, and seasoned in central Finland. Each birch tree harvested is 50 to 80 years old, and is felled during winter, when no pests can damage the timber. The wood is then slowly air-dried outdoors for up to twelve months, kept in a shelter to protect it from rain and snow.
The making of Stool 60 combines a fascinating interplay of traditional handcraft and modern production machinery, and features more than forty production steps, which have been developed over decades. Watch it here.
And here’s a piece I wrote for POST Media about this famous piece of Finnish furniture.