Aino Aalto was born 1894 in Helsinki, Finland. At the age of 19 she began her studies in architecture at Helsinki technical university (Helsinki Polytechnic), from which she graduated in 1920 as one of only three women in her year. After graduation, Aalto started working with the architect Oiva Kallio, but in 1924 she left to join the architect studio of Alvar Aalto. In only six months, Aino and Alvar had become a couple and swiftly married. Even though she now was a wife, and soon also a mother, Aino Aalto didn’t stop working as a designer in her own name, which was very uncommon at the time. She also continued to lead the day-to-day work at Aalto´s office, as well as giving creative and logistic input on his projects.
For a long time, Aino Aalto was mostly known for the furniture she made for her husband’s project, such as the furnishing at the sanatorium in Pemar (1929-1932). Her first real recognition as a designer came in 1932, with the line of glass wares called Böljeblick for Karhula-Iittala. In 1935 the Aalto couple started the company Artek (Art & Technology) together with Maire Gullichsen and Nils-Gustav Hahl. From 1941 until her death in 1949, Aino was Artek’s CEO and creative director. Aino Aalto was instrumental in laying the aesthetic ground for Artek, but also for the company’s development of laminated furniture and the use of plywood.
For the exhibition design that Aino Aalto made, the company was awarded the Grand Prix medal at the Milan Triennale in 1936. The same medal was also given to Aino Aalto´s glassware Böljeblick, which is said to be inspired by the circles that are created when stones are dropped in water. The name Böljeblick was taken from Gunnar Asplund’s restaurant at the Stockholm exhibition in 1930. Aino Aalto´s Model 615 chair was a part of the Female Traces exhibition at the Museum of Furniture Studies in 2019/2020.