Finnish Functionalism

Märta Blomstedt's Hotel Aulanko

At the end of the 1930s, an affluent class began emerging in Scandinavia and tourism became a major industry. Hotel Aulanko in Hämeenlinna, Finland, located in the picturesque Vanajavesi lake district, was one of the hotels built during this tourism boom. Märta Blomstedt, already a celebrated architect when she and Matti Lampén were chosen to design the hotel, also designed the interior and furnishings, which were luxurious in their construction and finishes but not overly-ostentatious in their forms (the lobby featured glossy rubber floors and glass tiles and silver-painted columns were present throughout).

exterior of Hotel Aulanko, Hämeenlinna, Finland

Blomstedt worked in the functionalist, International Style made famous by architects such as Marcel Breuer and Le Corbusier. The white, unadorned façade of Hotel Aulanko, its rationalist proportions and its sensitive placement in the surrounding environment are all hallmarks of International Style and Blomstedt's progressive, modernist outlook. Hotel Aulanko was completed in 1939 and became a popular destination for tourists and a number of Finnish movies were filmed there.

The present lot echoes the refined, modernist atmosphere of Hotel Aulanko in its pristine white upholstery, the high-shine of its elegant bun feet and the soft, expressive curves of the armrest and wingbacks. Hotel Aulanko is still in operation, though, after several renovations over the last eighty years, it retains little of Blomstedt's original furnishings.

interior of the lobby at Hotel Aulanko featuring a similar example of the present lot, circa 1940