Why live in organised simplicity when you can create your own paradise? Modernist couple Alvar (1898-1976) and Aino (1894-1949) Aalto introduced innovative standards of spatial functionalism to post-war European architecture and design. The couple reverentially placed the human being at the centre of each project, whether it was the Paimio Sanatorium in Finland, the Vyborg Library in Russia, the Baker House student dormitory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, The Finnish Pavilion at the Venice Biennale or their company Artek. They laid the foundations for what we today refer to as Scandinavian design. Two idealists, spouses and colleagues – the project that was Alvar and Aino’s personal relationship slowly materialises between the lines of their intimate correspondence.
Featuring the Rockefeller family and the architect Le Corbusier, the film’s scope sheds light on the great impact that the remarkable modernist team had on contemporary interior design. Aalto, which screened at film festivals in Amsterdam and Copenhagen, fuses historical account with personal melodrama. Through the couple’s letters, we hear their desires, fears, see their interminable personal traits and their stubbornness not to succumb to prescribed gender roles. For Alvar, Aino’s death in 1949 symbolised a lost paradise. According to him, no one is good when they are alone and a new period followed – his second marriage to the talented architect Elissa.