THE AL­VAR AALTO VASE ISN’T JUST FOR HOLD­ING FLOW­ERS. IT CAN BE USED TO DIS­PLAY FRUIT OR STAND ALONE AS ART

Real Living (Australia) - - LOVING -

THE YEAR IS 1937 and the name on ev­ery­one’s lips is Aalto – or as it was known back then, the Savoy – a glass vase that won first prize at the Paris World Fair. A year ear­lier, an ar­chi­tect by the name of Hugo Al­var Hen­rik Aalto had en­tered the vase into a design com­pe­ti­tion held by the Iit­tala glass fac­tory in Fin­land, which was look­ing for pieces to dis­play in the World Fair’s Fin­nish pavil­ion. Aalto was an ar­chi­tect by trade, but work­ing with glass ob­jects of­fered an op­por­tu­nity for him to ex­plore his more spon­ta­neous and cre­ative sides. The vase was, in fact, one of many de­signs he and his wife Aino cre­ated for the luxury Savoy restau­rant in Helsinki. The orig­i­nal sketches in­cluded sharper curves, but were mod­i­fied be­cause the mould­ing tech­niques avail­able at the time sim­ply couldn’t repli­cate them. It was meant to be – the end re­sult be­came one of the most fa­mous glass de­signs in the world.

The vase’s fluid glass folds are rem­i­nis­cent of the Fin­nish land­scape and lakes, but it was Aalto’s lib­er­ated ap­proach to design that re­ally set this piece apart. He be­lieved peo­ple should be able to look at and use ob­jects in mul­ti­ple ways – no­tice how the free-form curves al­low flow­ers to fall away from each other so their beauty can be seen from all an­gles. In a bit­ter­sweet twist, Aalto never made a dol­lar from the vase be­cause the orig­i­nal design be­longed to Iit­tala, which ran the com­pe­ti­tion. To this day, Iit­tala re­pro­duces the vase in 11 shades us­ing new ma­te­ri­als, with Aalto now recog­nised as the most im­por­tant Fin­nish ar­chi­tect of his gen­er­a­tion.

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