Alvar Aalto – Finland’s “father of modernism”


Aalto c.1935, © Alvar Aalto Foundation

Alvar Aalto (1898–1976) has been called the father of modernism in Finnish design, but was also an important figure in international architecture.

This anecdote from the Design Museum: “By the 1950s, Alvar Aalto … was one of the handful of people in Finland who were considered so important that, if they were late for a Finnair flight, the airline delayed take-off until they were safely on board. More often than not, Aalto did arrive late and Finnair passengers grew accustomed to waiting for him to board the aircraft. Aalto enjoyed this so much that, if he arrived on time, he instructed his chauffeur to drive around Helsinki Airport until he was late enough to stage a grand entrance.”

Aalto's Villa Mairea (Rafael Rybczynski on Flickr)

Aalborg Museum of Modern Art (seier+seier+seier on Flickr)

Like many of today’s ‘starchitects’, Aalto also turned his hand to furniture and product design. Iittala still produces his beautiful Aalto vase.

Iittala Aalto vases (Johan Klintberg on Flickr)

More on Aalto’s life and work here.

Architects and architectural technologists can be found on

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