Feb 16, 2014

Two Finnish Masters

An area very central to our every day activities is the space between the kitchen and dining/living room, hosting a small table set by Alvar Aalto. First, we wondered if the little table was located too close to the dining set, and thus not really needed. Now, after a year and a half, we have noticed how extremely practical it actually is. Close to the kitchen, the observation (and if required, reaction) time and distance remain minimal, if anything alarming happens for example in Sofi's end of the table. And, as the laminate surface seems practically impossible to damage and extremely easy to clean, it is perfect considering the junior diners.

Practical approach for daily meals

The "in-between" space actually builds on the work of two Finnish masters, Alvar Aalto and Paavo Tynell. They were both pioneers in their own fields, namely furniture and light design, respectively. Their designs are still highly appreciated and frequently found in many Finnish homes.

Our table is called 82B and the chairs are model 66. They were both designed by Alvar Aalto (1898-1976) in 1935. The set is made of solid birch veneer and accented with white laminate on the surfaces. In 1930's, Aalto's interest on wood processing and his collaboration with Otto Korhonen (the founder of a Finnish furniture manufacturing company Korhonen) led to the development an innovative way to bend wood. The result was an L-shaped leg (patented in 1933) enabling standardised construction of an entire product family. This, in turn paved the way for socially oriented design and architectural planning, as well as mass production methods for manufacturing.

82B & 66, both with laminate surfaces

L-shaped leg #1

L-shaped leg #2

Plywood, on the other hand, was invented in 1850's as a combination of three or more layers of wood. Cheap and easily accessible, it has since been an important medium for experimentation by modernist designers from the 1920's onwards. Cheaper and more easily accessible than aluminium or steel, plywood was a key material for early 20th century designers such as Gerrit Rietveld, Marcel Breuer and Alvar Aalto.

Between the kitchen and living room

Perhaps our favourite Paavo Tynell (1890-1973) piece, a brass pendant light which hangs above the Aalto table, was designed by Tynell and produced by Taito Oy in 1948. Taito Oy, founded in 1918, was one of the most important lighting manufacturers in Finland during the first half of 1900, producing lighting solutions both for domestic and public spaces.

Brass pendant light by Tynell

After the Second World War, when Outokumpu mine started providing brass after war-related efforts, also Tynell started utilising brass in his designs. Very soon, the brass lights become a commercial success both in Finland and US, exports to US starting in 1948 when the Finnish-American Trading Corporation opened a "Finlandia House" in New york. Interestingly, in the US one could not hang a pendant light from its electricity cord, and to overcome this obstacle Tynell developed his famous counter balance light, which later became one of his trademarks.

Pattern from grandma's knickers

The brass pendant light housing has a typical perforation of small holes found in several Tynell lights. We have mentioned this before in a post titled "Northern Lights", but the rumour is worth repeating, as it nicely links these two Finnish masters. Apparently, when noticing the pattern, Alvar Aalto made a remark of a resemblance to his grandmothers knickers (isoäidin pitsipöksyt). 

Pendant parts

As the pendant light has already seen quite many years, it become evident it would benefit for some care when Pekka disassembled it for cleaning. The wiring has already been replaced once before, but a further electric update might soon be in order. Of course, Pekka will share the full story, when the time comes.

Expiring electricity

Urho would also like to use this opportunity to send his winter greetings. He does not mind, however, that this year winter started late and seems to end early. As it has been mentioned before, Urho really does not care much about winter attire (to read about Urho's past interactions with winter clothes please visit "Sneaky Little Sausage"). It is understandable that a handsome dog like Urho prefers to show off his easy-on-the-eye -figure, rather than hiding it in baggy clothes, whatever the latest fashion trends may state... 

Sniffing snow


  1. Hi
    Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog post.

    1. Hi Ricky, We are glad you found our blog and that you enjoy it. Hope you continue to follow our adventures also in the future.