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Artek presents Alvar Aalto’s L-leg collection at Orgatec 2016

During 25–29th October 2016 Artek shows at Orgatec for the first time, participating in Vitra’s platform “Work”. The Artek booth is dedicated to the extensive furniture collection based on Alvar Aalto’s L-leg invention, showcasing the flexibility, materiality and informal transversality of the design classics.

The “Work” platform is devoted to the role and design of contemporary and future workspaces. A true amalgam of the knowledge, ideas, and cultures of all people involved in a work process – whether it’s an ongoing or temporary collaboration – cannot form until there is a physical meeting in an office or alternative workspace. Technical possibilities allow the site of work to shift intermittently from the office to the home or to a public space like a café, waiting area, or transportation device. At the same time, more and more communal workspaces are establishing themselves in the classic office world in order to enable informal exchanges and chance encounters among workers.

Finnish design company Artek has much to contribute to the design and customisation of an open work environment:

Informal Transversality

The core of Artek’s collection consists of the furniture and lighting designed by the great Finnish architect Alvar Aalto to furnish his own buildings, which ranged from office buildings to public institutions like schools, universities, museums, and churches as well as restaurants and private homes. Much of the Artek furniture conveys a relaxed familiarity and cannot be ascribed to any definite social identity or functional category. The table remains a table regardless of whether it’s used as an office, dining, or workshop surface; the stool remains a stool whether it’s used for sitting, storing, or presenting. Artek furniture thus moves naturally between the residential sphere and the work sphere and between different areas of application.


Artek works primarily with natural materials that have been proven over time and that people trust – first and foremost, wood. These materials boast a natural beauty and radiate warmth; they are also environmentally friendly and age gracefully. These qualities are in high demand in the office world, serving to enrich the traditional palette of materials and ensure a diverse and inspiring work environment.

Aalto’s L-leg collection is made from Finnish birch. The special beauty of Finnish wood stems in part from the high growth of the trees, which is typical of mixed forests and gives the wood an especially regular grain. The
light “blond” tone of the wood is influenced by the mineral content and condition of the Nordic soil, and is further enhanced by the slow drying of the fallen timber in the open air.

The individual tree trunks utilized by Artek are up to 80 years old, making the material of the furniture produced today roughly the same age as the company itself.

 For the fabrication of the L-leg, multiple vertical saw cuts are made in the end of a piece of wood a few millimetres apart, with the slits extending just below the level of the planned bend. Thin strips of wood veneer are then inserted into these slits and glued. This simplifies the actual bending process but also increases the dimensional stability and stiffness of the finished component.

 Artek products continue to be fabricated semi-industrially according to strict quality criteria with a high proportion of handcraftsmanship. The L-leg collection is still produced at the original Artek factory in Turku, Finland, the process of their production relatively unchanged, their organic qualities as ideologically and aesthetically relevant as ever.


The Aalto collection is based on the idea of standardised individual components that can be pieced together to form an extensive system of tables, chairs, and stools. The products can be easily combined and coordinated with one another. Product formats like table sizes and heights are flexible, while product surfaces and colours can be customised even for small projects to complement a personalised design concept or underscore the client’s identity.

Artek shows at Orgatec this year for the first time ever with a booth designed by Berlin architecture office Kuehn Malvezzi, an open geometric matrix of platforms showing different work situations. The individual rooms of the matrix are not defined by walls, but by different floor heights, which form a textured landscape, a kind of spatial plan. A group office, café, open plan office, and workshop area feature Aalto tables, chairs, stools, and benches in a variety of surface and colour combinations. The highest platform in the centre presents a rich materials library of wood stains, lacquers, linoleums, HPLs, and leathers, offering insight into the production processes of Artek furniture, which is manufactured in the company’s own factory in Finland.

Artek – Art & Technology since 1935

Artek was founded in Helsinki in 1935 by four young idealists: Alvar and Aino Aalto, Maire Gullichsen, and Nils-Gustav Hahl. Their goal was “to sell furniture and to promote a modern culture of living by exhibitions and other educational means.”

In keeping with the radical spirit of its founders, Artek today remains an innovative player in the world of modern design, developing new products at the intersection of design, architecture, and art. The Artek collection consists of furniture, lighting, and accessories designed by Finnish masters and leading international designers. It stands for clarity, functionality, and poetic simplicity.

For more than 80 years, Artek’s products have enriched public spaces, museums, schools, restaurants, hotels, shops, as well as countless private homes all over the world. The company is headquartered in Helsinki, Finland, also home to the Flagship Store Artek Helsinki and the Artek 2nd Cycle Store.

Artek at Work
25 – 29 October 2016
Hall 5.2, Orgatec
Cologne, Germany

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