Vitra acquires Artek

Swiss manufacturer of living and contract furniture, Vitra, has acquired Finnish design furniture maker, Artek.


Artek was founded in 1935 by Alvar and Aino Aalto, Maire Gullichsen and Nils-Gustav Hahl. Artek was sold to Vitra by Swedish investment company PROVENTUS, who become majority owner of the company in 1992, following an invitation from the families of the founders.

“Vitra has held Aalto and Artek in high regard for decades,” explains Rolf Fehlbaum, a member of Vitra’s Board of Directors. “The Finnish design company is more than a collection of furniture; like Vitra it is a commercial-cultural project which plays an avant-garde role in its sector. For Vitra it is important that Artek can continue and further develop this role.”

Artek will continue as a separate entity. Synergies between different operations will be explored. They primarily relate to manufacturing, distribution and logistics.

Mirkku Kullberg, Artek’s CEO, says: “The international dimension, which was a clear goal already in Artek’s founding manifesto of 1935, needed to be revitalized. That arena is where we want to be, and alliances or ownership arrangements are one way of building the future. In our judgement, having an owner from the industry was the best choice for Artek.”

Kullberg continues: “This is a great opportunity for the Finnish design industry and a major move for Artek, lifting the company to the next stage.”

The core of the Artek product range consists of Alvar Aalto’s furniture and lighting designs. Under its new portfolio strategy, Artek is extending the range and has acquired the rights to Ilmari Tapiovaara’s furniture collection.

In parallel, Artek also continues to work in close collaboration with prominent international architects, designers and artists, such as Eero Aarnio, Shigeru Ban, Naoto Fukasawa, Harri Koskinen, Juha Leiviskä, Enzo Mari and Tobias Rehberger.

As an important player in the modernist movement and in the spirit of its radical founders, Artek remains in the vanguard as it searches for new paths within and between the disciplines of design, architecture and art.

“There is definitely a comeback of Nordic design and there is a renewed appreciation of Aalto’s work. Tapiovaara of course is much less known internationally, and it is high time that he be discovered,” Rolf Fehlbaum adds.

The partnership between Vitra and Artek is based on shared values. Proventus CEO Daniel Sachs, former owner of Artek, explains the decision of the transaction: “Vitra has the ideal corporate culture, know-how and industrial resources to take Artek to the next level.”

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