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Book Review: Alvar Aalto Architect

Alan Hughes reviews Alvar Aalto Architect by John Stewart

A retrospective commentary on an architect’s work is not such an unusual idea but in the hands of John Stewart this consideration of Finland’s greatest architect/designer turns into so much more.

Mr. Stewart, at the launch of the book spoke emotionally yet with some humour about how his determination to write a biography of the man, as well as the architect, tempered his forty years of hero worship of Aalto.  However, what he has crafted is a wonderful exploration of Aalto’s creative persona, his struggle to be successful and his battle with ego and perfectionism, adding a special dimension to the story which is partnered by a comprehensive consideration of his design output.

Illustrations are equally revealing with images of Aalto’s work accompanied by drawings and personal photographs, some published for the first time.  The context of the work is very well researched and presented giving a clear sense of how Aalto fits into his time and Stewart is full of anecdotal and intimate moments from the family and private life of one of Finland’s most recognised sons.  In the year that marks the 100th anniversary of Finland’s independence this publication is very much in context.

Published by Merrell, London