Chairs by three greats – Konstantin Grcic, Hella Jongerius and Yrj Kukkapuro – from Artek

Artek is proud to dedicate the 2014 introductions to the celebration of the chair, in conjunction with three iconic designers.

Konstantin Grcic’s first design for Artek, the multifunctional task chair called Rival, reflects its roots in this historical company. Using technical finesse, Grcic design is transformed into a modern piece of furniture for contemporary living. Hella Jongerius’ reinterpretation of Alvar Aalto armchairs 400 and 401 together with Stool 60 is the beginning of a new collaboration on a crisp and tactile collection of Artek classics. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Karuselli, Yrjö Kukkapuro’s legendary lounge chair, Artek has re-launched this modern design classic. A result of extensive experimentation and a revolutionary combination of ergonomics, new materials and production methods, Karuselli will appeal to a wide audience for its timeless design and comfort.

“Turning a new page in the history of Artek, 2014 marks the beginning of an era filled with expectations and a certain excitement, says Artek CEO Mirkku Kullberg. “Being part of the Vitra family is a big change for the company. The new ownership brought an infrastructure that enables Artek to focus on product development and the expansion of distribution, the core elements for growth. At the same time, the brand and identity of Artek stay strong and confident in the dialogue with Vitra.”


Rival is a chair designed with an eye towards those who work from home. In its use of materials, Rival reflects its roots in the legacy of Artek, with a mix of solid birch for the legs, laminated birch for the arms and back and in the circular geometry of the seat. It also has a technical finesse, which makes it a true piece of modern design. The swivel feature offers a clear purpose to the function of the chair. The form is about comfort, even as it is typologically different from a normal chair.

Grcic designed the legs milled from one piece of solid birch. This technique has recently been used in a number of chairs, resulting in the wood taking on a fluid quality more like molded plastic than timber. Grcic has maintained a more conventional form that reflects the materiality of birch. The birch of the back and the arms is displayed in a saw-cut lamella.

For Grcic, designing a chair works on a number of levels. First, there is the choice of materials, and it was clear that for the Rival, birch would play an important part. Second, there is the home office typology, a reflection of a contemporary approach to life. Lastly, there is what might be called the grammar of construction: the way in which a piece is put together. The first incarnation of Rival is an armchair with a high and a low back version, an upholstery seat choice with a three-dimensional textile or leather upholstery, available in a range of coloUrs.


In Hella Jongerius’ first collaboration with Artek, she has interpreted Alvar Aalto’s classics – products that embody simplicity. Working with Aalto’s armchairs 400 and 401 and Stool 60, Jongerius’ ambition was to soften their overall look by creating a tonal coloUr palette around four wood finishes. Next to the existing Artek wood finishes, silver birch and honey, Jongerius creates two new darker tones: walnut and charcoal stain, adding depth and warmth to the collection. By introducing upholstery in more tactile fabrics, Jongerius updates the color palette of the Aalto archives for a more diffused graphic aesthetic.

For the upholstery of armchair 400, two Jongerius textiles were selected to create a soft graphic look. Hours is a fabric inspired by the natural coloUr variations of sheep’s wool in different seasons and in varying light conditions. Borders celebrates the beauty of fabric edges with a reference to an old tradition: small bands woven by hand are embroidered together to create larger fabrics.

For the collection of the 401 armchair, Jongerius combined structured fabrics to create a colour blocking effect. The combination of the two coloured pieces and a third fabric covering the back breaks up the long lines of the 401. This creates a fresh and playful take on upholstery, marking the beginning of a new, fruitful collaboration.


The revolutionary Karuselli by Yrjö Kukkapuro Artek is relaunching Yrjö Kukkapuro’s legendary lounge chair Karuselli, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2014. The modern design classic was a result of extensive experimentation and a revolutionary combination of ergonomics, new materials and production methods.

Kukkapuro began developing the fiberglass chair in the 1950s, arriving at the famous shape in 1964. The shape of the Karuselli chair is the result of extensive experimentation – Kukkapuro spent four years sculpting it and searching for the right dimensions, initially using his own body as a guide. Karuselli is exceptionally comfortable as well as stylistically distinctive precisely because it is ergonomically based on the shape and proportions of the human body. As a result of his persistent efforts, Kukkapuro finally arrived at a form that represented a novel combination of ergonomics, new materials and production methods, as well as artistic design.


In the radical spirit of its founders, Artek is in the vanguard of creating future paths within and between the disciplines of design, architecture and art. Artek has been a pioneer of ethical design since 1935. The cornerstones of Artek’s strategy are ethics, aesthetics and ecology. In Artek, this translates into high quality, timeless icons and tomorrow’s archetypes in humane design. The core of Artek’s product range consists of furniture and lamps designed by Alvar Aalto and the furniture collection of Ilmari Tapiovaara. In accordance with its current portfolio strategy, Artek has extended its collection to respond to the ever growing demand. In autumn 2013, Artek signed a cooperation contract with Yrjö Kukkapuro and launched small interior design objects by Kaj Franck. In September 2013, Artek passed into the ownership of Vitra AG.

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