The Artek Manifest
The far-sighted founders of Artek believed in a grand synthesis of the arts. They wanted to bring about improvements in everyday urban life as well as in architecture and design. When the company was founded in 1935, an Artek Manifest was drawn up, inspired by functionalism. The vision was to interconnect modern visual arts, rational furniture production and popular education. These goals and values are still very much part of Artek today.
The roots of Artek are in the international community whose membership consisted of architects, designers, theorists, artists and connoisseurs. Aalto’s achievements enjoyed high regard among these modernists. Along with Marcel Breuer, Aalto was the preferred furniture designer in the group, just as Léger and Picasso enjoyed a privileged status in the visual arts. Hence all of the four Artek founders were received into this historical inner circle and they were all extremely well-connected.
Artek has always had an important role as an opinion leader, the company has a long history of actively taking part in the cultural context. The courage to question old patterns and truisms, being socially aware as well as upholding a certain idealism, is descriptive of Artek.
Organising exhibitions has always been part of Artek’s activity. Still today, the link to the art world is very important. Artek has a habit of organizing four to five exhibitions per year, in collaboration with students from the art, design and architectural fields as well as international designers and architects.
The Manifest remains an important source of inspiration, an ideological statement and a key-document in defining the sprit of Artek. It keeps on challenging Artek as a company, especially now when consuming is feral and fast. In the spirit of its founders, Artek is investing in material research, in the development of systems and standards, and in sustainable design. Aesthetics, ethics and ecology are in the DNA of Artek.
Artek's original values - long-term durability and high quality combined with a clean form language - are still the company's driving forces. Artek's most essential products are the furniture designed by Aalto. The company carries on the Aalto tradition and spirit by renewing and re-issuing the designs that outlasts its original owners.
Natural materials and the humane approach are as relevant today as they were in the era of modernism. Artek's design philosophy brings a human perspective to modernism. The furniture is made with the ambition to support and nourish human beings’ physical and psychological wellbeing. By blending functionalism with form and sculptural simplicity with the emotional warmth of wood, Artek's furniture harmonises with architecture.
Artek's iconic status is founded on innovative design thanks to its founder, Alvar Aalto, who invented new methods for bending and splicing wood to enable the execution of the revolutionary structural ideas and fluid organic forms of his most dynamic designs. Artek's core collection, the Alvar Aalto collection, is a comprehensive furniture system that can be used in all kinds of situations from public spaces to offices, museums to schools, hotels to homes. The versatility of this collection allows Artek to customise furniture for individual projects.
In order to achieve sustainable products, the product development process must be allowed to take time. In a time when many companies rush in their product development and manufacturing, Artek remains steadfast in its dedication to allow time for the experimenting and testing of new ideas.
Artek's reputation is founded on a commitment to quality and continuity. Modern techniques combined with traditional craftsmanship ensure the quality of each piece of furniture. Concrete examples of the longevity of Artek furnishings are the "2nd Cycle" stools and chairs. The 2nd Cycle collection was introduced in the spring of 2007 during the Milan International Furniture Fair, as a statement of conscious consumption. A coded RFID tag embedded in the 2nd Cycle stool records the furniture’s history, stories, as well as information about its origins and authenticity. Few furniture items have achieved such a long and multi-phased life span: Artek’s furnishings have touched the lives of children, students, the elderly – all members of the family, together and separately. These 2nd Cycle items are part of Artek's environmental strategy and are a proof of authenticity, longevity and the graceful aging process of an original Artek product.
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The founding Manifest of Artek remains the source of inspiration of Artek today.