Many Artek pieces have remained constantly in production since the early ‘30s. They include the absolute pièce de résistance, the Paimio armchair, designed in 1931 for the sanitorium of the same name, with its powerful curved birch laminate frame accommodating the graphic line of the continuous black or white lacquered plywood seat. A deeply “human” piece, even more so when one considers that it was made for invalids, possibly fragile and apprehensive.
Also in production since 1933, but designed in this case for the Viipuri library, the 60 stool is stackable and is distinguished by the L-bend legs, mounted directly to the underside of the seat. It is a “minimal” object (in the sense of minimalistic, although that particular term had yet to be coined at that time) as well as being multifunctional (it also makes a handy small table). The leg-to-tabletop mount was to become a stylistic hallmark, both iconic and functional, often employed as a device for connecting horizontal and vertical surfaces – see also the tables.
Alvar Aalto did not subscribe to certain dogmas typical of the Modern Movement, but designed “real” furniture, i.e. pieces that could genuinely go into production and were therefore “for everyone.” He remarked in 1949 that the problem of luxury and ordinary furniture could be solved by not producing different categories of furniture, meaning that the furnishings for luxurious homes and simple workers’ houses could be made from the same basic materials. This was Artek’s basic premise, harnessing the connection between manufacturing technology and sound market knowledge to produce goods that could be truly democratic on one hand (something that the rationalist tubular metal furniture of the time failed to achieve), and “anti-vulgar” (unlike the tired historical replicas) on the other, not to mention “anti-elite.”