Way back when I started writing my blog in April 2010, I worked on an old school desk in a corner of my bedroom. I had space for two or three inspirations pictures stuck on the wall above it. One of those pictures was a page torn from an interior design magazine, featuring an aerial view of that iconic Alvar Aalto vase in black and white and a quote from the man himself underneath in pink: “I would only ask that you do not forget to play.” Almost four years later, I am lucky enough to have a studio at the end of my garden and an entire wall covered in inspirational images – that page is still one of them. So you can imagine how excited I was to visit the home and ‘creative space’ of this design legend in Helsinki, Finland.
Alvar Aalto designed the reinforced concrete building in 1935 to combine his living and working spaces. A sliding door separated the office (known as the ‘studio’ – Alvar said that nothing creative ever happened in an ‘office’!) from the family’s lounge, dining room and kitchen. The studio had a mezzanine level, providing extra storage space for archives, an area for model-making and desks for the students who started their careers sharpening pencils watching the goings on below.
A keen painter and sculptor, the paintings displayed along the wall of the studio are all Alvar’s own work. He never sold one, wanting to keep this pastime for himself, just for the sake of being creative. Being very proud of his day job, he would say, “Don’t call me a painter – I’m an architect.”
The adjacent library started off as Alvar’s office, but he decided he preferred working at the window desk. A secret door, accessible only by ladder, led from the library up to his private quarters via the roof terrace when he needed to escape! He had a second desk in his bedroom and often preferred the quiet and solitude he found working there, particularly when the studio started to become crowded as the practice expanded in the 1950s. By 1956, he moved work to a new location (watch out for creative spaces :: studio aalto next month for more on that), and this space was given over to family life. Alvar Aalto continued to live here until his death in 1976.
Further reading for the especially geeky:
- creative spaces :: tom raffield
- creative spaces :: sebastian cox
- creative spaces :: rebecca hoyes
- creative spaces :: studio dempsey
Further eye candy for the especially visual: