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Exhibition on ‘humanist’ Modernist Alvar Aalto

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The Soane-built Pitzhanger Manor House and Gallery in west London is exhibiting a collection of designs, plans and furniture pieces by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto

Exhibits include photographs and plans of major built projects, such as Maison Louis Carre (1956-59) and Experimental House (1952), and original furniture pieces including Paimio Chair (1932), Stool 60 (1933) and glass tableware designs.

Carol Swords, curator of the exhibition said: ‘Aalto had a very humanist perspective in contrast to the harsher and more industrial aesthetic of the time. He has a very emotional response to his buildings and furniture designs.’

She added: ‘Much of his furniture designs relate to the importance of wood and how we relate to the material. Aalto had a very humane way of looking at design, whether it was a building or a chair, he always put people at the very centre of his work.’

In one area of the gallery, visitors are able to sit in Aalto-designed chairs around a coffee table, in order to experience the architect’s designs rather than just observing them.

‘Aalto liked to experiment,’ said Swords. ‘He never called his experiments ‘failures’, they were just ‘refinements’, and I think for today’s designers that might be something to take on board.’

Also on display are works by Finnish artist Ola Kolehmainen, whose architectural photographs focus on the repetitive patterns found in buildings and which include images of Aalto-designed buildings as well as of Siena Cathedral, a building highly regarded by Aalto.

Reason & Intuition – Alvar Aalto & Ola Kolehmainen
PM Gallery & House
Until 24 August 2014

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