Artek was founded in 1935 by four young idealists, Alvar and Aino Aalto, Maire Gullichsen and Nils-Gustav Hahl. The business idea of the company was “to sell furniture and to promote a modern culture of habitation by exhibitions and other educational means.” The founders of Artek advocated a new kind of environment for everyday life. They believed in a grand synthesis of the arts and wanted to make a difference in town planning as well as architecture and design.
Today Artek is renowned as being one of the most innovative contributors to modern design, building on the heritage of Alvar Aalto. Functionality and timeless aesthetics are the essential elements in the creation of every product that bears the Artek name. Artek’s comprehensive furniture system is based on the original idea of standards and systems, which has its origin from Alvar Aalto’s L-system. The standard and system thinking makes the furniture range versatile and allows it to be customised for individual projects. Artek’s furniture can be found in various types of spaces; from public spaces to homes, museums to schools and hotels to offices.
The creative hub of the company is Artek STUDIO, the unit where new products and ideas are developed. Artek is continuously searching for new materials and questioning existing solutions for sustainable design. The cornerstones of the company’s product development strategy are ethics, aesthetics and ecology. In Artek, this translates into a combination of high quality, timeless classics and strong ideology in design thinking.
The core of the Artek product range consists of Alvar Aalto’s furniture and lighting pieces. Under its new portfolio strategy, Artek is looking to extend the range and, to celebrate the company’s 75th anniversary in 2010, has acquired the rights to Ilmari Tapiovaara’s furniture collection. In parallel, Artek also continues to work in close collaboration with prominent international architects, designers and artists, such as Eero Aarnio, Shigeru Ban, Naoto Fukasawa, Harri Koskinen, Juha Leiviskä, Enzo Mari and Tobias Rehberger.
Artek is headquartered in Finland and is owned by the privately held investment company Proventus AB, based in Sweden. Artek has three stores in Finland; one in Helsinki, one store in Espoo and in Turku. Artek maintains close relations with the family of Alvar and Aino Aalto as well as the Alvar Aalto Foundation. The exchange of knowhow is valuable for all the concerned parties.
While valuing traditions Artek has at the same time entered a new era. Combining the ideology of the radical founders and a contemporary and dynamic approach to product development, the company is more art and tech than ever.