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Artek marks the 80th anniversary of Alvar Aalto’s iconic Stool 60 with a safari-style installation in Tokyo. Alice Blackwood takes the tour.



November 11th, 2013

It’s a brand renowned for its radical beginnings, enduring designs and adventurous character – a reputation which resonates with followers the world over. “Artek is not a brand, it’s a way of thinking,” states CEO Mirkku Kullberg.


Putting word to action, the Finnish furniture and lighting company this month launched its latest collaboration, Elephant in the Grass, undertaken with Tokyo’s Klein Dytham architecture (KDa) in the shopping mecca of Ginza, in Tokyo.


Looking to connect with its global network of architects and designers, Artek linked up with the multi-disciplinary KDa as well as long-time collaborator, Comme des Garçons, to stage an in-store installation that transformed its best-selling product, Stool 60, into long blades of grass.


The installation sets a safari scene, sprouting up within the “Elephant Space”, a ground-level shop front space within the famed Dover Street Market Ginza (created by Comme des Garçons).


The elegant legs of Stool 60 appear almost like blades of grass, finished in greens and yellows – which have quickly become a favourite among Artek collectors, notes Mirkku. The long, spindly forms of the stool create a slender contrast to the mass of the elephant and, by extending the legs of the stool it appears as if the elephant is swaying in Savannah grass.


On the eve of Stool 60’s 80th anniversary Artek marked 2013 as the year to work with contract markets, providing the perfect excuse for one its trademark collaborations and an edgy and exciting launch event.

“Artek has long been doing seminars and symposiums, inviting artists and architects to speak, as well as [staging] installations in art venues with artists and architects. For us, this is the best kind of communication and publicity,” says Mirkku.

And her firm belief that “all these areas are blending” is mirrored through Artek’s adventurous campaigns, and ongoing engagement with a cross-section of creative disciplines and design brands. Comme des Garçons, in particular, is “for us one of the most important fashion brands, with whom we’ve been working since 2007,” notes Mirkku.


Japan is an important market for Artek, hence the focused celebrations in Tokyo. However Mirkku is keen to take Elephant in the Grass to Artek’s other key markets, with the possibility of a showing in the US.

Elephant in the Grass will be on display at Dover Street Market Ginza until 21 November 2013.


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