KITKA cribz: The Aalto Home & Studio

June 20th, 2009

Well it’s Mid Summer here which means it never gets dark, and all the shops are closed (for THREE days no less). It does have some perks though as we were lucky enough to have a private tour through the home of Alvar Aalto. [A title edit was necessary as sadly we’ve been watching a lot of MTV lately].


We had the place to ourselves for a couple of hours and Juli took some great photos that remind me of 1950s editorial photographs of interiors. It was honestly the most inspiring place I’ve ever been to.


The living room was beautiful, so much natural light, a perfect layout. Can you see the planters sitting on top of the radiator in front of the window?


The Aalto house is an L shape, half of which is a studio workspace. The room in the top left was Aalto’s private office, which he rarely used. The door to the right was where the secretary and reception office was. The common area was dedicated to the senior architects, and the architect students worked on the second floor, although Aalto joked that all they were useful for was to serve coffee to the senior architects.


The dining room, with a nice thick birch table, and a set of dining chairs Alvar and his wife Aino Aalto purchased on their honeymoon in Italy. There are tons of pictures and more facts after the jump, check it out! Let’s start off with the living room…


The birch sliding door leads to the office. Aalto took a lot of inspiration from Japanese culture which you can see from many elements in his home. He even spent most of his time at home in a Kimono. Due to the inaccessibility of Japan for most of the early to mid century, Aalto never got a chance to visit Japan.


The living room was decorated by Aalto’s second wife Elissa Aalto were it has remained unchanged. I can’t get enough of that black and white fabric, and the beautiful berber rug.

Aalto tea trolley. I desperately want one, seriously.


The wall of the dining room is suede (done tastefully) which provides better acoustics in the dining area. The wall art actually shows the process of building and bending plywood.


Aalto designed this ashtray/table which is the only piece of furniture Aalto designed that was completely made of metal. It was too expensive to put into production.


Here is a one of a kind paper and wood table lamp designed by Poul Henningsen, given to Aalto as a gift. Poul Henningsen was experimenting with ways to make his products more affordable. Isn’t that crazy?! These guys are soo amazing! It’s a far cry of the current disposition of Louis Poulsen who owns the rights of Henningsen’s designs, selling them at ridiculous prices.


Signed with a personal note to Aalto’s second wife Elisa, a Le Corbusier print!


Here’s the kitchen which is still fully functional,  as you can see from the dish soap. Actually, it’s so functional, we are not allowed inside the kitchen and had to take photos through a window!


Let’s head upstairs.


Here is the 2nd floor living room containing a familiar light fixture. Juli and I have really fallen in love with those bent wood shelves designed by Aalto, it was really nice seeing them work in a space.


The 2nd living room acted like a hub for the family. All four bedrooms surround this common space and it was really known as the center of the home.


Another great fireplace, with a painting of Aalto’s aunt.

Let’s head over to the master bedroom.


So, this is where the magic happens.


This is Aalto’s daughter Hanni’s bedroom, very simple and warm.



This is Aalto’s son Hamilkar’s room, the head board is made from a stretched canvas.


We love the pendant light hanging in the window. It shines light directly down as well as to the side, to illuminate both a workspace and a piece of wall art.


The guest room’s bed has accomodated some big names in art and design, as the Aalto’s entertained often. The bed is high up in order to use the space to its fullest – underneath are the beams that make up the staircase.

The great thing about the Aalto house is how he made it possible to be near his family by having an integrated home studio.


We love the organic mixtures of materials throughout the house. Some architects tools make for some cool wall art!


Here is the office half of the Aalto house. The stairs running from the top of the fireplace to the second floor are inspired by old Finnish fireplaces that often had stairs leading from the fireplace to bedrooms above to provide better heating during the dark winter months.


The art works leaning against the wall were all done by Aalto. He didn’t sign them because painting was exclusively a leisure activity. There is also an early prototype of the bentwood process he pioneered.


Although Aalto had his own private office, he preferred to work out in the trenches at his favorite spot next to the corner window. You can’t tell in the photographs but the chair is upholstered in tan leather.


Here is Aalto’s private work station complete with an antique dentist light from Denmark. This was surprisingly the 2nd time we had seen a light like like this on our trip. The first was at Pia Wallén’s beautiful loft in Stockholm Sweden. We really should have taken some pictures, it was a very inspiring space.


Aalto was a very eccentric designer. He installed an escape route to the rooftop patio for when things got a bit too heated with the other architects.


Even the planters are in the shape of the Savoy vase. And the flowers were Aalto’s favourite, which informed the design of the table in the background, which is still in production.


What a great view! When the house was built in the area that is known as Munkkiniemi, they enjoyed a view of the seaside. Of course now the area is built up with apartment blocks, but the space just behind the house remains a sports field so this was a smart location to build.


Among an ordinary street lies an interesting home.


There are a lot of lines on the exterior of the house. Aalto wanted the home to age along with the lines on his face.



Well, that’s the tour! At least you didn’t have to walk around in plastic bags!

Filed under: Travel | 5 comments

5 Responses to 'KITKA cribz: The Aalto Home & Studio'

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  1. This is an awesome retelling of your visit. Beautiful space. Can’t say the bedrooms really work for me (too MCM sparse) but the common and outdoor spaces are terrific. Thanks!


    20 Jun 09 at 3:42 pm

  2. wowzer.

    does magic happen with two twin beds? Awkward magic I imagine.

    I was never a big fan of Aalto (in fact not a fan at all) but I think you’ve swayed me completely. I LOVE this space, its so functional and elegant but still super accessible. LOVE LOVE that berber rug – good god I need one so bad. And all the lights! To die.

    The way the floorboards are installed is amazing. Those shelves are so inspiring. Oh, and that killer black and white fabric – I want it so badly.

    Thanks for all the great beautiful pics – I will totally be referencing them for my own place and can finally look at blond wood favorably. I’m a believer in Alvar Aalto!

    the brick house

    21 Jun 09 at 3:26 am

  3. Lol! ME TOO! I mean I liked Aalto but now I love his work. And you described it perfectly – functional, elegant and accessible. We too are going to be referencing his space a lot in the near and distant future.


    21 Jun 09 at 3:39 am

  4. i had the same thing happen to, Alto is really great in person!
    that black and white.. and those wood shelves
    9i got obsessed with them after coming back from Finland, they are so much $$$$$$!


    21 Jun 09 at 6:32 am

  5. I have wanted to see this house for years, and after having seen your fantastic photos of the place, I’m more eager than ever to go there. Thank you so much!

    PS. How can you be so sure I don’t wear those blue plastic socks when blogging? ;-)


    21 Jun 09 at 5:50 pm

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