Friday, December 4, 2009

Design Friday: Aalto Bowl

I was browsing through a Crate & Barrel catalog, and came upon a candleholder entitled "Aalto". From its form and name I immediately knew what it was paying tribute to, and therefore decided to enlighten all about the original... the Aalto Bowl.

The Aalto bowl is named after its designer, Alvar Aalto (more on him in the future). Alvar is one of the masters of modern architecture and Scandinavian design. Typical of Scandinavian design, his work was inspired by the lines and forms found in nature. As he felt that good design should be a part of everyday life, he created these bowls for use in everyday life. These bowls come in a variety of sizes and colors, and are produced through iittala.
How might this be used in everyday life? I think sometimes we get used to doing things the way we always do them, and when we see an object in an unfamiliar form, we are unsure what to do with it. This doesn't look like a traditional bowl, so it might take adjusting to treat it as such. Depending on the size, it could be used to serve fruit, or collect seashells, or to hold crayons, or fall leaves, or gourds, or fill with sand and place a tealight, flowers, etc. Its unusual shape will instantly transform what you are presenting from ordinary to interesting and modern.
I actually have the mini bowl, due to my parents visiting Finland many years ago. They didn't realize at the time exactly how significant an Alvar Aalto creation would be to me, they were just told at the time that the Aalto bowls and vases are something every Finn owns. I think it's so very cool, and currently I use it to collect change. I have to say, it is fun to use it as an everyday object rather than put it on display.



  1. One of the lesser known creations of Alvar Aalto that never caught on is the Aalto toilet bowl.

  2. We just saw these on sale at the MoMa gift shop. I have to admit I wasn't thinking of it as practically or as creatively. Because what do I use a bowl for? Cereal. And I couldn't imagine manuevering my spoon around this bowl. You've helped me see it's other many uses:)

  3. Mike-
    I think you're thinking of Duchamp's "Fountain".

    I love the idea of eating cereal out of it. What a pain!