Model #43 Armchair
Maija Heikinheimo w. Alvar Aalto
A substantial carver armchair designed by Maija Heikinheimo with Alvar Aalto for Artek circa 1950.
Visually, the frame of the chair is most informed by the legs. To create the legs on each side of the chair, one section of laminated wood has been strategically bent to create a straight front leg, a gently sloping arm rest, and a back leg that kicks outwards -to increase stability.
Pulling the legs on each side of the chair together is a generously sized seat and chunky backrest. The thickness of these elements is not a result of the amount of padding used, rather the frames within these seating sections are structurally important. Furthermore, the seat and backrest are sizable to achieve overall balance, visually.
Mimicking the arch created by the bent wood leg is the shape at the bottom of the backrest. And mirroring the lines within the laminated beech wood are the bands of leather wrapped around each of the armrests.
At Artek, Heikinheimo designed various objects such as a coffee set, a mirror, and a tray. In addition to the Model #43, she created other chairs as well as storage furniture. Her main focus was on interior decoration and fairs. However, she is widely considered to have served as Alvar Aalto’s right hand. Not only whilst artistic director of Artek, 1937-1941, but in other positions, 1945-1963.
Many of Artek’s furniture drawings were signed with Aalto’s name -as was the practice at the time- therefore it is difficult to know is someone else might actually be more responsible for some designs. Maija Heikinheimo only signed designs that were considered “less important” with ”MHho”.
Maija Gullichsen, who was one of the founders of Artek, described Maija Heikinheimo in Helsingin Sanoma on June 24, 1982: "Maija Heikinheimo drew a lot of furniture for Aalto's houses in Artek, but she was so modest that she always said that they were created in collaboration with architects and did not bring her own ideas to the fore. I remember her as Artek's central designer."
Prior to Artek, Heikinheimo, studied at Helsinki’s University of Art & Design. Upon graduating, in 1932, she began her career at Asko, one Finland’s largest furniture manufacturers, where she served as the company’s first in-house furniture designer. At Asko, Heikinheimo produced several signature furniture pieces and was instrumental in developing ‘wooden functionalism’. After 3 years at Asko, she was successfully poached by Artek, namely Alvar & Aino Aalto, whom she ran into at the 1937 world exhibition in Paris whilst traveling on a scholarship.
Width: 62 cm
Height: 74 cm
Depth: 46 cm
Seat Depth: 46 cm
Seat Height: 43 cm