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Vitra acquires Artek

Friday 6 September 2013

The Swiss owned furniture company Vitra has acquired Artek, the Finnish furniture company co-founded by Modernist architect Alvar Aalto in 1935. Vitra acquired its shareholding from the Swedish family-owned investment company Proventus, which took over majority ownership of the brand from the founders' families in 1992.
Artek CEO Mirkku Kullberg explained that the acquisition is intended to give the Artek brand a greater international presence. "The international dimension, which was a clear goal already in Artek’s founding manifesto of 1935, needed to be revitalised," he said. "That arena is where we want to be, and alliances or ownership arrangements are one way of building the future. In our judgment, having an owner from the industry was the best choice for Artek."
"Vitra has held Aalto and Artek in high regard for decades," said Vitra chairman Rolf Fehlbaum. "Like Vitra it is a commercial-cultural project which plays an avant-garde role in its sector. For Vitra it is important that Artek can continue and further develop this role."
Further details of the deal have not been disclosed. A spokesperson from Vitra told Dezeen that Artek will continue to operate as a separate company, with no changes in management or manufacturing for the moment. "Artek and Vitra are both very creative companies so any crossover is likely to be in creative collaborations," she added. Artek is already the distributor for Vitra's furniture in Finland.
Artek was founded in 1935 by Aalto and his wife Aino, art promoter Maire Gullichsen and art historian Nils-Gustav Hahl. The company's core archive comprises Aalto's birch wood furniture designs including Armchair 41 created for the Paimio Sanatorium he completed in 1932 (pictured) and Stool 60, the much-copied classic that's been in continuous production since 1933. The brand is extending its range and has recently acquired the rights to Finnish designer Ilmari Tapiovaara’s furniture.
In recent years the brand has also been collaborating with high-profile contemporary designers including Shigeru Ban and Naoto Fukasawa.

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