Artek products are manufactured in series. The nature of its products, however, and the materials it uses stand opposed to purely mechanical and fully automated processing.
 
Combining modern production methods with expert handcraftsmanship, Artek furniture is manufactured in keeping with the original vision of Alvar Aalto.
 
Regional sourcing, sustainability, and safety are pursued without compromise, both by Artek and its partners, ensuring ethical manufacture and design of the highest quality.
The L-leg, a central component of Aalto’s furniture
A freshly bent chair frame is inspected in the 1930s
A skilled craftsman works on a birch lamella loop at a-factory
Moulds for various sizes of L-legs
The production of Alvar Aalto’s furniture in the 1930s
Knowing how products are made, where raw materials are sourced, and the ethical and environmental impacts involved, is part and parcel of responsible consumerism. Artek aims to be completely transparent, and its products – built to endure, easy to adjust or adapt – are more relevant than ever.
 
Environmentally responsible, safety orientated, and made to last, Artek furniture, lighting, and accessories are continuously and thoroughly tested so that the Artek name guarantees not only design excellence, but highest quality.
 
Regardless of whether an item or component is produced at Artek’s factory in Finland or by one the company’s carefully selected partners, rigorous standards are met.
 
Artek designs comply with European safety standards. The a-factory in Finland, where the majority of Artek furniture is made, holds both ISO 9001 and 14001 certifications. All wood-based materials are FSC and/or PEFC certified.
Each tree harvested to build Artek furniture is 50 to 80 years old – and if a tree takes a lifetime to grow, the furniture made from it should last as least as long. In Finland, classic Artek designs are inherited by one generation from another, and more recent additions to the collection aim to achieve the same lasting legacy.

sustainability

made in Finland

The little sister of the architectural column
 
The process also increases the dimensional stability and stiffness of the finished component. Aalto originally designed the L-leg for Stool 60, yet it soon established itself as a versatile standard element of the Artek collection. He referred to it as ‘the little sister of the architectural column.’ L-legs in various sizes are used in the construction of numerous seating designs and tables.
The L-leg
 
For the fabrication of the so-called “L-leg,” Alvar Aalto developed a patented process in the early 1930s for the bending of solid wood. Multiple vertical saw cuts are made in the end of a piece of birch wood, 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 - as wood lamella are more easily molded than a thick piece of solid wood.
...from Birch Lamella
 
Through the molding process, laminated birch wood can be shaped into closed loops as well as open forms. While Aalto used the loop-like constructions for such designs as the Paimio Chair, the Tea Trolley, side tables, and also for wall shelves, the open forms provided the base frames for various cantilever chairs as well as the backrest of the Rival Chair by Konstantin Grcic.
Laminated Wood...
 
Radically modern furniture from wood was one of Aalto’s central ideas. To this end, he carried out numerous experiments with bent laminated wood in the late 1920s. Long strips of birch wood several millimeters thick - called lamella - are layered with the grain running in the same direction, then glued and bent into the desired form. With a remarkably thin cross section, laminated birch wood allows for curves and bends that are comparable to tubular steel and exhibit an equal stability and flexibility- but with a much warmer look and feel.
For the production of Alvar Aalto’s furniture, various specialized woodworking techniques have been specifically developed and refined over decades.

wood bending techniques

The trunks are sorted to produce planks with minimal wastage.
 
Each piece of wood is evaluated and then given the purpose to which it is best suited; birch without knotholes or marks becomes exposed stool legs and scarred birch is used to craft lacquered elements,  while the wood waste fuels the site’s heating system.
 
Inspected for quality, grain, and colour, the wood used to build Artek products remains a natural material. In the same way trees in the forest possess their own idiosyncrasies and unique markings, so each Artek piece of furniture is subtly different from its siblings. Rather than being seen as flaws, minor irregularities are considered natural and beautiful; they add uniqueness and character to the objects.
A unique colour
 
Natural air drying – or seasoning – defines the final colour of the timber, which is prized for its pale tone and charmingly known as “blond birch.”.
Air dried
 
The wood is then air dried outdoors for up to twelve months, in the shade to prevent the wood from sun exposed tanning.
Birch from Finland
 
More than 20 tree species are indigenous to Finland, but the country’s forests are particularly rich in pine and birch, the main material used for Artek products. To compete for sunlight in mixed forests, Finnish birch grows tall very quickly, with a single trunk and crown, and very few branches.
 
It spends the rest of its life maturing, producing wood that is close-grained, strong, and of consistently high quality.
The majority of Artek products are made at the a-factory in Turku, Finland, the city where Aalto furniture has been manufactured since the 1920s.
 
Spread over 7,000 square metres, the a-factory is a semi-industrial operation. Specialised in bending solid birch, lamella, plywood, and veneer, as well as traditional carpentry and lacquer finishing, carpenters at the a-factory handle each and every piece of furniture by hand.
 
More than 20 tree species are indigenous to Finland, but the country’s forests are particularly rich in pine and birch, the main material used for Artek products. To compete for sunlight in mixed forests, Finnish birch grows tall very quickly, with a single trunk and crown, and very few branches.
 
It spends the rest of its life maturing, producing wood that is close-grained, strong, and of consistently high quality.

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