Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

Modern Man

Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

Modern Man

Article excerpt

Byline: Lesley Apps

IMAGINE being so powerful that even airlines wait for you. That's the clout that Finnish architect and designer extraordinaire Alvar Aalto had in his country. He was late quite often by all accounts and when he wasn't he had the cheek to tell his chauffeur to drive around Helsinki Airport to bide time so he could make his usual grand (late) entrance.

I guess if you are considered the most important Finnish architect of the 20th century and referred to as the CyFather of Modernism' you might be able to push it from time to time.

Alvar Aalto (1998-1976) grew up in Kuortane and graduated from architecture from the Helsinki University of Technology in 1921, when even then he had the forthright notion to style himself as a world-class architect.

After working with Swedish architect Arvid Bjerke, he opened the Alvar Aalto Office for Architecture and Monumental Art, his name emblazoned at the entrance in huge letters.

Besides confidence, timing helped Alvar establish his career as Finland had just won its independence in 1917 and by the mid-1920s there was no shortage of architectural commissions to help establish this new country's identity.

After a short stint as a journalist, Alvar was soon winning commissions and putting his stamp on his homeland through his fusion of Finnish romanticism and modernist ideals which was later transferred to his furniture and glassware ranges.

Again as he went about his work he set about establishing himself as a cosmopolitan intellect through interviews often making proclamations like "Flying is the only civilised form of travel for the modern man". No wonder the planes were happy to wait for him.

But he did have a heart.

When he designed his buildings he quite often did it with its occupants in mind. During planning for the Paimio Sanatorium he approached the project from the perspective of a patient and created a peaceful but cheery environment. No detail escaped him; from the canary yellow paint on the stairs, to the heating and specially modified tap from which water poured quietly as to not disturb fellow patients. …

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