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Restaurant Savoy Helsinki: renovation of a landmark

Helsinki is a beautiful city that boasts many interesting museums and buildings. It was here that Finnish couple Aino and Alvar Aalto lived and worked as designers and architects. Alvar in particular was known for his distinctive designs in the field of organic construction, and his reputation as the “father of modernism” and as a pioneer of Finnish architecture extends far beyond Scandinavia.

Art-déco-Restaurant Savoy

The elegant art deco restaurant Savoy was opened in 1937 on the Esplanade promenade in the middle of Helsinki. Photo: Anton Sucksdorff, Restaurant Savoy

Although influenced by the Deutscher Werkbund and the Bauhaus , his roots lay in the Nordic Classicism movement of the 1920s. Knowledge of Italian architecture, which the Aaltos picked up during their honeymoon, and Aino’s radical new ways of thinking helped Alvar to develop into a groundbreaking figure in modernist design.

As urban planners, the Aaltos had a major influence on Finland’s architecture that is particularly evident in Helsinki. In their first residential project in the Helsinki suburb of Munkkiniemi, they used the construction of their own home as an opportunity to realise their ideas for a house as a place to both live and work. A current example of the Aaltos’ design principles can be seen in the Restaurant Savoy, which has just been newly renovated and reopened.

Renovation in cooperation with Artek

Ahlström-Castrén-Bürogebäudes Restaurant Savoy Helsinki

Two lifts lead to the eighth floor of the Ahlström Castrén office building to the Savoy Helsinki restaurant. Photo: Anton Sucksdorff, Restaurant Savoy

The couple designed the interior of the Restaurant Savoy in 1937, and it has remained untouched until now. It has recently undergone very careful renovation in a project commissioned from internationally renowned interiors expert and designer Ilse Crawford (Studioilse) in cooperation with Artek, Helsinki Museum, and the Alvar Aalto Foundation.

Artek produced a limited edition of Chair 611 to mark the Savoy’s reopening. The backrest of the design classic is made from woven black leather, with black leather also used to upholster the seat; its linear frame is fashioned from oak.

Artek’s celebrated A330S pendant light, also known as the Golden Bell, was conceived for the Restaurant Savoy by Aino and Alvar Aalto. The original lamps, with their beautiful patina, still hang from its ceilings today. The project has been supplemented with A201 lighting fixtures and A330S Golden Bell wall lamps.

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