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Artek and Vitra - A partnership built on affinity

On 6 September 2013, Vitra acquired the Finnish company Artek.

A renowned design company founded in 1935 in Finland by architect Alvar Aalto and his wife Aino, art promoter Maire Gullichsen and art historian Nils-Gustav Hahl, Artek was built upon the radical business plan to “sell furniture and to promote a modern culture of habitation by exhibitions and other educational means.” Artek has become one of the most innovative contributors to modern design, building on the heritage of Alvar Aalto.

“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 judgment, 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.”

Vitra welcomes Artek as a new member of the Vitra Family.

About Artek:
Artek was founded in 1935 by Alvar and Aino Aalto, Maire Gullichsen and Nils-Gustav Hahl. The business idea of the company was “to sell furniture and to promote a modern culture of habitation by exhibitions and other educational means.” That was the beginning of Artek.

The Artek collection comprises design furniture and lighting fixtures by the Nordic masters Alvar Aalto, Ilmari Tapiovaara, Tapio Wirkkala and Eero Aarnio. The latest addition to the portfolio consists of products by Yrjö Kukkapuro. The masterpiece of Kukkapuro, the Karuselli chair, will be
re-launched on the market in the beginning of the year 2014. In addition to classics, Artek is also launching new generation design products under the Artek Studio brand. Alvar Aalto’s furniture represents an interpretation of Scandinavian modernism articulated primarily in Finnish birch wood. Wood and functionality are both hallmarks of the Artek collection. The Artek portfolio represents the most comprehensive collection of wooden design furniture in the world.

Artek has international sales offices in New York, Berlin, Stockholm and Tokyo. The domestic market accounts for 60% of the company’s turnover, with Artek holding a solid position in the Finnish consumer and contract market. Vitra’s design classics have for a number of years been an important part of Artek’s collection for the Finnish market. Artek operates four stores in Finland, as well as a wide retail network.

www.artek.fi

About Vitra:
Vitra is a furniture company dedicated to developing healthy, intelligent, inspiring and durable solutions for the office, the home and for public spaces.

Vitra’s products and concepts are developed in Switzerland by applying a diligent design process that brings together the company’s engineering excellence with the creative genius of leading international designers. It is our goal to create products with a high functional and aesthetic life expectancy.

The Vitra Campus architecture, the Vitra Design Museum, workshops, publications, collections and archives are all integral elements of the Vitra Project. They give Vitra the opportunity to gain perspective and depth in all of its creative activities.

www.vitra.com

About Proventus:
Proventus AB is a family owned, privately held investment company that has been active in the Nordic and other European capital markets for over 40 years. It was founded in Stockholm in 1969 and is owned by Robert Weil.

Today, Proventus provides tailor-made credit funding facilities to carefully selected medium-sized European companies, although it also maintains a small portfolio of equity investments. Through Proventus Capital Partners, it aims to be a powerful and meaningful source of development capital, to help ensure that credible, functioning and profitable companies have access to the capital they require.

In the last four decades, Proventus has pursued a deeper and more balanced definition of doing business. It is deeply involved in society through cultural institutions such as Magasin 3 Stockholm Konsthall, the Jewish Theatre in Stockholm, and the Israeli Batsheva Dance Company.

Proventus also participates actively in several foundations that are engaged in the development of a sustainable, equal and just society, including Berättarministeriet, Glasshouse Forum and Culture without Borders.

www.proventus.se

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