Woven Paper String – artek during the war

Alvar Aalto stools - upholstered in pink woven paper

As with most industrial countries life changed for the majority at the declaration of war in 1939. It wasn’t any different for Finland who had to turn their factories to producing materials to aid the war effort.

Artek felt the effects, as they were using Finnish resources… However, this was overcome with creative substitutes. Glue that was required for the L bend was unavailable and so legs were joined manually; lesser quality birch was used and painted over; and woven paper string was invented to replace fabric in upholstery. Aino Aalto took part in this and lessened the drabness with her colours and designs.

Towards the end of the war Artek turned to Sweden – a neutral country that had spared the hardship – and set up factories there to produce furniture whilst the Aaltos focused on prefabricated housing in their war-ravaged home.

woven paper string Alvar Aalto

We acquired a pair of Hallway chairs, directly from Finland – but not with the usual plywood seat/back.

Aalto’s intentions were to produce standardised parts which could be used in multiple designs. Here an upholstered seat and back sit within the framework of the Chair 51 – a more comfortable version for the home –  as opposed to the Paimio Sanitorium where the plywood version would have original sat.

The chairs arrived in a fabric that we were told was “paper”. After some research we found this to be the materials that was developed during and after the war.

Unfortunately it was too worn in places to keep on the armchairs.


upholstered stool 60s by Alvar Aalto, pink woven paper fabric

With what we were able to salvage of the pink fabric we had a pair of period Stool 60s covered.

2x Upholstered hallway chair 51, Alvar Aalto, blue linen