I’ve started so I’ll Finnish

Two Finnish design heavyweights are being celebrated at a new London show opening next month.

Alvar Aalto Paimaio Chair

Source: (c) Martti Kapanen Alvar Aalto Museum.

Alvar Aalto Paimaio Chair

The impact of Aalto’s work is not to be underestimated – as we discovered on a trip to Finland last year, his designs are pretty much everywhere; not least in the omnipresence of copycat versions of his iconic three-legged stackable Stool 60.

 Alvar Aalto Stool 60

Source: (c) Martti Kapanen Alvar Aalto Museum.

Alvar Aalto Stool 60

The exhibition is entitled Reason & Intuition – Alvar Aalto & Ola Kolehmainen in Soane, and has been realised thanks to a collaboration between PM Gallery & House, the Alvar Aalto Museum and the Finnish Institute in London.

Alvar Aalto Beehive

Source: (c) Maija Holma Alvar Aalto Museum

Alvar Aalto Beehive

Around 40 designs by Aalto will be on show, including chairs, tables and lights. Visitors will also be able to view a collection of original designs and plans for some of Aalto’s 500 buildings – including the Villa Mairea, designed with the aim of emulating a Finnish forest.

 Alvar Aalto House Helsinki 1936

Source: (c) Maija Holma Alvar Aalto Museum

Alvar Aalto House Helsinki 1936

‘Aalto regarded each building as a total work of art and his design skill reached into every corner’, says PM Gallery, which is hosting the show.

Aino and Alvar Aalto
Aino and Alvar Aalto

Another display will feature glassware designed by Aalto’s first wife and collaborator, Aino.

Street fac¸ade of Alvar Aalto´s own home in Helsinki.

Source: ©Alvar Aalto Foundation

Street fac¸ade of Alvar Aalto´s own home in Helsinki.

Aalto’s work will be shown in the Pitzhanger space. The gallery says, ‘The exhibition aims to be an architectural conversation across time, with Aalto’s furniture and building designs finding a home in the rooms [John] Soane built for himself as an advertisement for his skills as an architect.’

 Hagia Sophia Year 537 V
Hagia Sophia Year 537 V

The PM Gallery will display Kolehmainen’s photography, with some images of Aalto’s buildings, and others showing the buildings that inspired him, such as the Siena Cathedral in Italy.

Kolehmainen’s beautiful, unusual imagery draws heavily on reflections, showing sections of buildings that under the repetitive patterns that form them.

Duomo di Siena VII
Duomo di Siena VII

The gallery says, ‘The complex new images are theatrical and epic in scale, with a nod to architectural history and even classical painting.’

Carol Swords, gallery programmer, adds, ‘The reflections, which are so much a part of Kolehmainen’s work, illustrate that buildings and art do not exist alone, they are rooted firmly in this world and, in particular, all three men [Soane, Aalto and Kolehmainen] recognise the prominence of the natural world.’

Reason & Intuition – Alvar Aalto & Ola Kolehmainen in Soaneruns from 4 July – 24 August at PM Gallery & House, Walpole Park, Mattock Lane, Ealing, London W5 5EQ.

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