Deriving from a Modernist inspired fusion of the words ‘art’ and ‘technology’, the innovative Artek company and shop was founded in Helsinki by husband and wife design team Alvar and Aino Aalto, together with the wealthy art lover Marie Gullichsen and her industrialist husband Harry. The company sought to manufacture and market affordable, well‐designed, modern wooden Finnish furniture and furnishings, making Aalto's bent plywood furniture, lighting, textiles, and glassware available to a wide public through wholesale and retail sales—alongside more exotic items such as Moroccan rugs. Many of the company's wares were seen in the Paris Exposition of 1937 and the New York World's Fair of 1939–40, attracting favourable critical attention. After the war the company trimmed back earlier ambitions for the promotion of modern design culture and in 1963 it merged with Billñas, leading to the withdrawal of Alvar Aalto. However, by the 1980s, a number of fresh overseas market opportunities were developed in the United States, Japan, and the southern hemisphere. The company was acquired by Proventus Design in 1997.
Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.