Art + Design

Alvar Aalto + Tom Dixon + white + Marimekko = YES.

I really like what Tom Dixon has been doing since becoming the Creative Director of Artek several years ago (2nd cycle, collaboration with twentytwentyone, the amazing towers assembled for the 75th anniversary of Aalto’s Stool 60, etc.), but the “Artek White” line of Alvar Aalto classics really takes the cake.


Of course I love Aalto’s furniture in its original birch-plus-color form, but seeing them in this monochromatic state really makes me appreciate the sculptural quality of each piece in a whole new way.

What really did me in, though, was seeing this hot little number in person at the UES Marimekko Concept Store last Friday:

Ahhh, Finnish textiles and Finnish furniture, two great tastes that taste great together! Yes, it’s a Stool 60 in Artek White, upholstered with Varvunraita fabric from Marimekko. SO beautiful!

And yes, I did immediately think about painting a Frosta stool from IKEA white and upholstering it with a Varvunraita tea towel. $23 versus $425? Tempting!! I also suddenly feel like painting my Ånes bed white…

(all photos © Artek)

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  • Reply mommy April 15, 2009 at 11:48 am

    Oh, Anna, you can’t imagine how I’m drooling over these white Alto pieces. Unfortunately, the four legged IKEA Frosta is probably as close as I’ll ever get. I am buying three of them to use as stacking tables downstairs and the idea of covering them with Marimekko is wonderful. By the way, I want to cover a laundry room table with oilcloth. Do you know where one can buy Marimekko or other nice oilcloth by the yard?

  • Reply Anna at D16 April 15, 2009 at 11:57 am

    Mommy, there’s lots of Marimekko oilcloth here:

    Also, we have two Frosta stools that we might not be using anymore after we move the bedroom. Check with me before you go to IKEA! Maybe you can save $24. 🙂

  • Reply maya April 15, 2009 at 12:41 pm

    i painted my Frosta stool white about a week ago! i will try to take a picture,( i am too embraced about my house)
    like a good painter (ha!) i also used Kilts and then white house paint (i went with high gloss) its better to send them down a bit before.

  • Reply Lindsay April 15, 2009 at 12:43 pm

    WOW. It really works. For me the object that has benefited least from the whitewash is the stool, which seems less blocky in birch. But great collection!

  • Reply Amanda April 15, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    That side table is giving me heart palpitations.

    Speaking of the Anes bed: how do you like yours? Has it held up well? And, just to be nosy, how much clearance is there under the side rails (between the rails & the ground)? I’ve been thinking about that bed for a while, but haven’t been able to commit.

  • Reply Anna at D16 April 15, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    Amanda: We’ve had the bed for almost three years now, and it’s great. Really sturdy and solid – just as much so now as it was when we bought it. The most important thing to know when buying a bed from IKEA is to not buy the cheap LADE slatted base that’s included with them by default. Instead, ask them to upgrade you to one of the more expensive options. We have the LILLÅKER base, and it’s eons better, seriously. HUGE difference in quality. Well worth paying the extra!

    I’m not sure about the measurement, but I will check it for you tonight!

  • Reply Rebecca April 16, 2009 at 1:25 am

    Those are very cool! I’m drooling.

  • Reply Alicia April 16, 2009 at 4:04 am

    Oh wow I’ve upholstered two Ikea side tables, but I never thought of the STOOLS! Great idea! Thank you!

  • Reply Benita April 16, 2009 at 8:23 am

    Yay for white!!! 🙂 And for Finnish design!

  • Reply Adam April 16, 2009 at 10:41 am

    Love love love that white chair! So beautiful!

  • Reply Katja April 16, 2009 at 11:47 am

    These are so lovely in white – especially love the stool with the Marimekko fabric. Am a bad Finn for having no idea about these before I read about them on your blog 😀

  • Reply katie April 16, 2009 at 12:52 pm

    oh wow, thanks for the great images! the chair esp. looks so great in white! i was lucky enough to take a class in grad school where we studied aalto, and even got to spend 10 days in finland looking at his work. we did measured drawings and a model of his studio – studying the building where he worked in such great detail was an amazing experience.

  • Reply Amanda April 16, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    Anna, thanks very much for the words of praise/advice. I’ve been a fan of this bed, from afar, for a while, and it’s good to hear that my affection for it may be rewarded. I’m curious to know how much space there is under the bed. Living in a small New York apartment, any extra storage is a huge bonus.


  • Reply Anna at D16 April 16, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    Amanda, I forgot to check last night! I’m sorry! I’ll be sure to do it tonight — sending myself a reminder now. 🙂

    For what it’s worth, I’m almost positive it’s high enough to put standard bed-boxes underneath.

  • Reply Anna at D16 April 16, 2009 at 8:27 pm

    Okay, Amanda! I just checked, and the side rails are 7 1/2″ off the ground. I hope that helps! 🙂

  • Reply Tara April 16, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    Ah, whoa there, Nelly!! Why did I not know about this bed base?!! Lillaker? Never heard of it until now. We have the the Anes bed too. I love how it looks and all, but even with our super duper organic plush mattress, it is not a comfortable sleep. Alas, could it be the crappy slats?! Why have I never considered this? I was just about to dish out another $400.00 for a different mattress cover.

    Does it really make that much of a difference? Isn’t wood just wood (if you’re sleeping on it, that is)? Would you really paint it? I’m too chicken to do mine. I like it the way it is, but if you do it and it looks as great as everything else in your house I may be tempted to copy. But, you first.

  • Reply maya April 16, 2009 at 10:12 pm

    hey. i have been trying to email you with no success…. :(.
    your blog is great! and you have superb taste

  • Reply Anna at D16 April 16, 2009 at 11:13 pm

    Tara: Yes, the base makes a HUGE difference! We had the cheapo LADE slats for our old MALM bed (we upgraded to a queen size bed when we bought the house), and there’s really no comparison. The more expensive slats are made of layered beech (rather than solid pine), so they have flex/give and resistance while still be very strong.

    I don’t hesitate to paint anything if it means I’ll like it better afterwards. We have a lot of bent-birch elements that we’re planning to use in the bedroom (chair, stools, pendant lamp, bed…), and it can get too matchy-matchy. I think painting the bed (and maybe upholstering the inset headboard area) would break up the monotony nicely. See how nice it looks on the Aalto pieces?? 🙂 🙂

    maya: I just got your emails, they came through fine! I’ll reply tomorrow, I need to get some sleep now. 🙂

  • Reply aku April 17, 2009 at 8:06 am

    Coming from Aalto’s home town, I have a weak spot for his design in my heart, especially his architecture. I really like the white furniture, not that keen on the birch colour (which gets too yellow for my liking when it ages). Aalto + Marimekko = Finnishness at its best! 😉

  • Reply Tara April 17, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    I am making a trip to IKEA tonight. I’ll let you know how the new slats work out.

    I’m with you on painting. I will paint anything if I think it will look better, regardless of it’s ‘worth’. I’m just wondering how you would paint this type of birch wood. Is there some sort of finish on it? If you painted a smaller surface like this, would you sand, prime, and paint with a brush? Would you use an alkyd based paint? Seal it? Sorry, I’ve just painted a lot of furniture and I would say that the results have been less than stellar and the finishes haven’t held up well against staining or chipping.

    Thanks, Anna.

  • Reply Down Comforter April 26, 2009 at 11:46 pm

    Some interesting designs. I really like the chair 🙂

  • Reply Martha April 27, 2009 at 11:47 am

    I love google. I read this post when you first wrote it and was excited because I bought two frösta stools in March. After reading (and then thinking about it for a while), I decided that I want to alter them to be 3-legged… so I needed this picture! I just googled “frosta stool inspiration Finnish” and you were result #1. Yay! If all goes well, I’ll be doing a write up on my own site about the 4 to 3 leg transition. The problem w/ fröstas is that 4 legs makes for lots of wobble. Nerdily, I keep thinking of learning about how a plane is composed of 3 points. That 4th one is introducing a problem!

  • Reply Anna at D16 April 27, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    Martha: Did you know that the Aalto stool is available with 4 legs, too? Complicates things, doesn’t it… 😉

  • Reply Martha April 27, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    No complications here… I can’t take the wobbles!

  • Reply Martha May 1, 2009 at 9:31 pm

    Yay! All finished:
    Thanks again, Anna for being a continuing source of inspiration 🙂

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