Artek was founded in 1935 by four young idealists: Alvar and Aino Aalto, Maire Gullichsen, and Nils-Gustav Hahl. The business strategy of the company was “to sell furniture and to promote a modern culture of living by exhibitions and other educational means”. The founders of Artek advocated a new kind of environment for everyday life. They believed in a grand synthesis of the arts and wanted to make a difference in town planning as well as in architecture and design.
Today Artek is renowned as being one of the most innovative contributors to modern design, creating new paths at the intersection of design, architecture and art. The Artek collection comprises furniture, lighting and accessories by the Nordic masters Alvar Aalto, Ilmari Tapiovaara, Tapio Wirkkala, Eero Aarnio and Yrjö Kukkapuro. Artek also works with leading international architects, designers and artists, such as Shigeru Ban, Konstantin Grcic, Hella Jongerius, Harri Koskinen, Enzo Mari and Tobias Rehberger.
Artek’s collection is based on the original idea of standards and systems, initiated by Alvar Aalto’s bent wood experiments that resulted in the L-leg system. The L-leg, a solid wood leg with a laminated part bent at 90°, was patented in 1933 and quickly became a standard component of Aalto’s furniture designs. The standard and system thinking makes the furniture range versatile and allows it to be customised for individual projects. Artek’s furniture can be found in various types of spaces: public areas, private homes, museums, schools, restaurants, hotels and offices.
Artek's headquarter is in Helsinki, Finland, where Artek also operates four retail spaces: the Artek flagship store at Esplanadi, Artek 2nd Cycle, Artek Aitta and the Vitra Store Helsinki. International offices are located in New York, Tokyo, Stockholm and Berlin, where the international marketing team is based.