Artek was founded in 1935 in Helsinki, Finland, by four young idealistes: Alvar Aalto, Aino Aalto, Nils-Gustav Hahl and Mayor Gullichsen. Their goal, as described in a founding manifest, was at the same time philosophical, social, artistic and industrial, with the ambition of creating a "modern housing culture" through "durable and high quality furniture", using its "own forms and language".
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 consist of furniture, lighting, and accessories designed by Finnish masters and leading international designers. It stands for clarity, functionality, and poetic simplicity.
Dominated by the visionary talent of the architect and designer Alvar Aalto (1896-1976), Artek's production immediately put forth natural and warm materials such as wood, copper and leather, at a time when modernity was dominated by chromed, metal and strict geometric lines (Le Corbusier, Marcel Breuer, etc.). Alvar Aalto's aesthetic, at the same time humble and genial, has now extended into the production of the brothers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, who have been able to give contemporary versions of the modularity so dear to Aalto (Kaari collection) and to his mix of geometric rigor and fragility of the hand drawn patterns (Rivi collection).
For more than 80 years, Artek products have enriched public spaces, museum, schools, restaurants, hotels, shops, as well as countless private homes all over the world. In 2013, the Swiss design editor Vitra acquired Artek. On this occasion, Daniel Sachs, Artek's Executive Director, said "Vitra has the entrepreneurial culture, know-how and industrial resources ideal to enable Artek to continue its development".