Flashback: 1940: Artek-Pascoe, Manhattan

. Friday, April 23, 2010

A look back at the Manhattan showroom of Artek-Pascoe.

From a July 15, 1940 TIME magazine article:

Last week Alvar and Aino Aalto opened their own furniture store (Artek-Pascoe, Inc.) in Manhattan. The Aaltos' plywood sandwiches of maple and birch are shaped in Wisconsin, shipped East for assembly. Colors of the finished pieces of furniture, many of them Aalto-patented ranged from natural finish through cellulosed red and blue to black. On display also went Aalto-designed screens and glassware.

The excellence of the Aalto furniture may help to discourage manufacture of some furniture that now passes for modern. The Aalto purpose is to use U. S. mass production to get their designs into ordinary U. S. homes. Though their simple, substantial furniture is well fitted for mass production, the Aalto assembly line has not yet cut prices to the ordinary buyer's range. In full operation, it will retail an armchair now priced at $29.50 for $19, a $47 chest of drawers for $24, a $15 side table for $9. The Aaltos have already attained space-saving by designing stools that nest into each other, side chairs and even armchairs that can be stacked 20 high to save space."

The Finnish architect Alvar Aalto began designing furnishings as a natural and important extension of his architectural thinking and success. He created his first furniture in 1931-32 for the tuberculosis sanatorium at Paimio -- his international breakthrough. Artek was founded in December 1935 by Alvar Aalto, Marie Gullichsen an the Art historian Nils-Gustav Hahl. Artek was set up to market Aalto's furniture, lamps and textiles, particularly on international markets where Artek focused its operations from the initial stages.

The name Artek is a contraction of art and technology. Aalto's declared proposal was to "create rational furniture for rational life." In 1936 the first Artek shop opens its doors at 31 Fabianinkatu Street in Helsinki, with the name written in Bauhaus type stylised letters. Nils-Gustav Hahl and Aino Marsio Aalto (Alvar's wife) managed the business together, until Hahl died in the war and Aino Alto took charge of the company until her death in 1949. The American Artek-Pascoe opened a shop in New York, where they distributed Alvar's objects and furniture to the rest of the US.

Photos via the haunted lamp.


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