AlInteriors are ephemeral and short-lived. They are modified frequently according to the change of style, and rarely survive. Therefore, any investigation of interior environments of the past tends to rely on photography, oral history, and other sources. A newly-installed historical interior at the Alvar Aalto Museum in Jyväskylä, Finland, is an example of authentic and designed living space of the 40s.
An original interior that the Finnish architect created for Allan Hjelt (1885-1945) in the 1940s was recently donated to the Museum, marking a special moment in the history of Scandinavian design. A prominent figure in the Finnish economy and a patron of the arts, Hjelt acted as Finland’s Trade Representative attached to the Embassy of Finland in Bern, Switzerland during WWII. His relationship with Aino and Alvar Aalto and the furniture company Artek, which they founded in 1935 was particularly strong.
In 1938, he commissioned Artek to decorate his residence in Helsinki, which became one of the first major private commissions created by the company. Aino Aalto, the Finish architect and wife of Alvar Aalto created the space along with interior architect Maija Heikinheimo, crafting it under the concept of Gesamtkunstwerk ('total work of art'). The interior featured not only furniture by Artek, but also specially-commissioned pieces. Now, Hjelt's son, Bo Hjelt donated some and lent other pieces of the original interior of his parents' home, and they can be seen in the museum in the same way they were installed over seven decades ago. A rare opportunity to view the qualities for which Scandinavian modern had became so popular all over the world during the postwar years.
Photos Maija Holma © Alvar Aalto Foundation.