Posts Tagged ‘World’s Fair’

Happy Alvar Aalto!

Friday, April 8th, 2011

Aalto vase: 75th anniversary

It still looks like it was created yesterday but, arguably the best-known vase in the world – it could very easily be a product of the 21st century architecture/design practices of  Zaha Hadid or Frank Gehry was designed in 1936 by the most important Finnish architect of the 20th century, Alvar Aalto (1898-1976). Famous as much for his characteristically, curvy furniture designs as for his distinctive architecture, Aalto was a modernist, who fused the ideas developed at Germany’s Bauhaus and of the Dutch De Stijl group, for example, with traditional Scandinavian humanism. The result was that certainly his early creations, whatever their scale – from the Paimio Chair, 1933 – devised to ease the breathing of tubercolosis patients to his undulating, glass-fronted, Finnish Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair, 1939, where, incidentally, the vase made its debut – were more user-friendly, far less remote, than those of the other more rationalist moderns.

The organically-shaped glass vase was originally given the surreal name ‘The Eskimo Woman’s Leather Breeches’ by Aalto but became known as the Savoy Vase after a new luxury hotel in Helsinki that opened in 1937. Finnish glassware manufacturer Iittala market it eponymously as the Aalto Vase; each item individually mouth-blown, the design comes in a multitude of colours and sizes. It’s called a vase but apparently the most boring use for it is as a container for flowers; the owner is required to stamp something of his/her own personality on it. To me, diktats of any sort are like a red rag to a bull so, with that particular one in mind, I went out purposefully and came home with two bunches of beautiful, deep pink-red tulips, half-filled our Aalto with water and unceremoniously, pushed the stems into it. They looked colourful but, perhaps, a little sterile. Okay, I thought, maybe I should have been a bit more creative. Overnight, however – and I like to think it had something to do with the eskimo woman’s leather breeches – they sprang to life and arranged themselves prettily and naturalistically for my camera.

Do you have an Aalto vase?
What do you put it?

Please post a comment and, better still, send a picture

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