Stool 60 by Alvar Aalto for Artek turns 90

30 May 2023

Stool 60 by Artek

With just under a century behind it, it is still iconic and versatile

“The forest can do without man, but man cannot do without the forest”: it is said that this was a motto of Alvar Aaltos grandfather and that this respectful approach to nature influenced his human and professional education. And it is true, moreover, that the Finnish architect, son of a rigorous engineer and an eclectic Swedish postwoman, grew up cultivating his passion for the environment and his physical relationship with the materials it offers. We speak of wood, the material par excellence of Scandinavian architecture and design, which naturally also recurs in Aalto’s production. The designer appreciated not only the technical performance of this material but also the “emotional” one. The visual and tactile stimulus and the warmth of the wood were able, according to Aalto, to satisfy people’s emotional and sensory needs. Needs that Aalto and his wife, the architect Aino Marsio, had learned to consider as priorities especially when designing the interiors and furnishings for the Paimio psychiatric hospital. Wood, therefore, is for Aalto beauty and comfort, familiarity. And precisely these three traits return in one of his most widespread and iconic furnishings: Stool 60, designed in 1933 and produced by Artek, which this year celebrates 90 years of continuous production.

Stool 60 by Artek

Disarming in its ingenious simplicity, this stool has passed through very different eras with ease, traveling through the upheavals of the 1900s to arrive in the 2000s, preserving and increasing its raison d’être and its functionality. Seat, coffee table, support surface, Stool 60 today is even more up to date than yesterday because it satisfies the need to be able to experience spaces in a different way. From the office corner to the living room, from the kitchen to the sleeping area, passing through the bathroom, this small and elegant piece of furniture discreetly enters the space and becomes useful, indispensable to make life easier and style more defined.

Stool 60 by Artek

Precisely in terms of style, it is interesting how over the years Artek has been able to enrich the collection with new chromatic variations up to interpreting every type of aesthetic nuance and making this stool suitable for any interior. The structure, unchanged, consists of three curved legs, each installed with two screws to the circular support surface. From this derives a packaging and an immediate and simple user experience that brings Aalto’s design intelligence to the fore.

Stool 60 by Artek

Intelligence that Artek has decided to celebrate, on this ninetieth anniversary with three special editions of the stool: Kontrasti, Loimu and Vili. The first, in a numbered and signed edition, highlights the constructive elements of Stool 60 using heat-treated birch veneer sheets in different shades which underline, in particular, the curvature of the wood of the stool legs, necessary to give the characteristic “L” shape. The scraps of the wood used for the legs are used to make the seat, with the intention of underlining the need to give the production process a sustainable connotation.

Stool 60 by Artek

Stool 60 Loimu, and Stool 60 Vili are both due out in September. The first is produced with a special and rare variety of birch characterized by a wavy surface that requires an oil treatment that the buyer can do himself. The second, imagined by the Formafantasma studio, focuses on the use of wood defined as “wild”, in Finnish “Vili”: it is wood that has dark spots, knots, traces left by insects and for this reason is usually discarded. Formafantasma chooses this wood and its ability to “narrate the forest” to create a special version of the stool that will become part of Artek’s permanent production.

Stool 60 by Artek

To these is added the project for Sleeping Beauty – available only in Japan – the result of the collaboration between Artek and the Japanese architect Tsuyoshi Tane who wanted to explore the theme of aging gracefully. He buried raw birch wood in Japanese soils of different compositions for a certain period, and then observed the effects. Where the ground was rich in calcium, the wood turned yellow, while the more volcanic or aluminum-rich ground gave, respectively, black or white tones.

Artek Stool 60 Kontrasti – Limited Edition
Artek Stool 60 Kontrasti – Limited Edition
Artek 60 Stool
Artek 60 Stool

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