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22 October, 2021

Alvar Aalto A805: Artek’s iconic lamp shines in a new colour

The A805 floor lamp was produced in a new special colour for Hotel St. George – a beautiful green hue with its roots in Alvar Aalto’s atelier. Nicknamed “Angel Wing”, the lamp was born of collaboration by Aalto and master metal-worker Viljo Hirvonen.

Alvar Aalto A805: Artek’s iconic lamp shines in a new colour at Hotel St. George Helsinki

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It seems so familiar, yet at the same time it’s both contemporary and eye-catching.

Alvar Aalto is the quintessential Finnish architect and designer, and the A805 floor lamp ranks as one of his most important lamp designs. The lamp at Hotel St. George’s Wintergarden, however, is even more special. Its olive green hue has been specifically chosen to complement the atmosphere of the space.

The colour is a perfect match to Klaus Haapaniemi’s mesmerising wallpaper, Lightnings in Tiger Woods, which features a magical forest landscape.

– When the wallpaper had been chosen, Mirkku Kullberg, who was in charge of the hotel’s interior design, remembered the beautiful and unique green hue of an experimental lamp at Alvar Aalto’s atelier in Tiilimäki. At her request, I looked up the same shade in today’s colour palette, says Artek’s Country Manager Anja Matilainen


“Angel Wing” was created in the 1950s for Finland’s Social Insurance Institution

Special colours are not unusual when it comes to Artek’s products. In fact, Alvar Aalto himself tended to use bespoke colours and materials in his design projects.

Artek’s A805 floor lamp has been nicknamed “Angel Wing”.

 “Angel Wing” dates from the early 1950s, which is also when the headquarters of Finland’s Social Insurance Institution was designed. The lamp, first introduced to the public at the headquarters,  was featured in the main lobby and the cabinets.

Aalto was also trusted with the interior design of the Social Insurance Institution headquarters. This fuelled him with new enthusiasm for lamp design.

The metal-worker who was inspired by Aalto’s wild ideas

Aalto was supported in his design work by the master metal-worker Viljo Hirvonen. The two first met in 1953.

– The co-operation between Aalto and Hirvonen was very intensive. Without Hirvonen, Aalto’s lamps would certainly have turned out very different. Hirvonen knew the possibilities of metal and what it lends itself to, as well as which of Aalto’s wildest ideas could be realistically implemented, Alvar Aalto Foundation Chief Curator Katariina Pakoma explains.

The story goes that Aalto would sometimes show up at Hirvonen’s workshop with only the very first draft of a lamp. The collaboration enabled each lamp to find its individual shape.

The green colour beautifully matches the lightnings in tiger woods wallpaper by Klaus Haapaniemi

Artek produced a Special Edition of the green A805 lamp

At Hotel St. George’s Wintergarden, “Angel Wing” is accompanied by a matching wall lamp. Artek decided to celebrate the opening of the hotel by producing a limited Special Edition of the lamp in green. It has been received with great enthusiasm.

– Extra orders have been made to satisfy the demand. The numbers, however, are always in the dozens rather than the hundreds. Otherwise it wouldn’t be special anymore, Matilainen says.

Special Editions can’t be launched just like that. You must always discuss them with the Alvar Aalto Foundation, which nurtures the designer’s heritage. 

 – We want every product to be designed and made with great care. Each one needs to have a story, Matilainen says.

According to her, the special colour of the A805 lamp was easy to produce, as the lamp is made by hand in Finland. Though it’s not Artek’s top selling lamp, it may well be the most architectonic.

– In effect, it’s often bought by designers. “Angel Wing” is regularly showcased as an example of Artek’s products at exhibitions or trade fairs. It’s an iconic product for Artek, Matilainen says.

Published date: 03.06.2019


Take Your Favorite Piece of St. George Design Home With You

Fell in love with Hotel St. George's design? You can find the iconic A805 lamp and most of Hotel St. George's furniture in Finnish Design Shop's St. George Collection and take the design moments you had with us home with you. 

Shop St. George Collection

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