2 Min Lesezeit
Aino and Alvar Aalto, Photo: Herbert Matter, Courtesy of the Department of Special Collections, Stanford University Libraries
Design of a “noiseless washbasin” for the Paimio Sanatorium, 1929 – 33, © The Alvar Aalto Foundation
Savoy Vases, 1936, Photo: Maija Holma, The Alvar Aalto Foundation

“True architecture can only be found where people are at the centre,” said the Finnish architect and designer Alvar Aalto (1898-1976) in 1958. For Alvar Aalto and his two partners in life and in architecture – Aino Marsio and Elsa Mäkiniemi (who changed her name to Elissa after her marriage) – this was anything but a casual remark. It was, as it says in the short guide to the exhibition AALTO – Aino Alvar Elissa. La dimensione umana del progetto, it was “a manifesto for a life’s work and the beginning of a search for a completely new understanding of architecture that would leave an indelible mark on Europe and the world”. Until 26 May, the exhibition at MAXXI in Rome is showing eleven projects from five decades that the Aalto Studio, founded in 1923, has realised during its existence. The various projects are presented in an experimental constellation, which is intended to offer visitors various opportunities to understand the working methods of the architecture studio. For Aalto, architecture, art and design were inseparable components of his creative process.

Alvar’s first wife Aino, also an architect, was of fundamental importance to the office’s design philosophy in the early years and was involved in the realisation of important projects such as the tuberculosis sanatorium in Paimio in south-west Finland. After her untimely death in 1949, Alvar married Elissa in 1952, beginning a new and fruitful period of creative collaboration at the Aalto office. The human experience of spaces and things continued to be at the centre of the studio’s architectural and design considerations and projects. This practice ran like a common thread through the projects, which varied greatly in scope. The focus on architecture in the exhibition is complemented by works from the fields of glass, textiles, lighting, children’s furniture and the activities of the design company Artek. The selection of projects is accompanied by a contemporary photographic overview by Ramak Fazel.

AALTO – Aino Alvar Elissa. La dimensione umana del progetto
14 December 2023 – 26 May 2024
MAXXI in Rome

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