Dutch designer Hella Jongerius has created new versions of Modernist Alvar Aalto’s iconic 901 tea trolley for Finnish furniture brand Artek.
Aalto’s side table made its debut in 1936 at the Milan Triennale, taking its cue from the designer’s interest in British and Japanese tea culture.
The original 901 design featured a simple blonde birch frame, a pair of wheels, and two linoleum trays.
A year later the 900 version of the design was released which added a wicker storage space, and had a single ceramic tile-covered tabletop.
Jongerius’ edition of the table retains both trays from Alto’s first design, and is available in light birch and black lacquered versions.
In both variations, the upper tabletop echoes the colour of the wheels – cream for the light edition and peat for the dark – while the linoleum of the lower tray is slightly darker, further emphasised by shadow.
A handle that spans the width of the trolley allows it to be moved around as required.
Artek, which was acquired by Swiss design brand Vitra in 2013, previously partnered with the Bouroullec brothers to launch a collection of tables and shelving, as well as industrial designer Konstantin Grcic to create a birch chair.
The company, which celebrates its 80th anniversary this year, was originally founded in 1935 by Aalto and his wife Aino, art promoter Maire Gullichsen and art historian Nils-Gustav Hahl.
The company’s core archive comprises Aalto’s birch wood furniture, although it has extended its range to include pieces from Finnish designer Ilmari Tapiovaara. A collection of original Aalto designs were also reintroduced earlier this year.
Artek acquired the HKT Korhonen factory that has been used to produce furniture since the company was established early last year.
In a manifesto published this April, Jongerius – who has also reinterpreted Artek’s Stool 60 – proposed a new agenda for design, calling on practitioners to move beyond “the New for the sake of the New”.
In an earlier interview with Dezeen, the designer commented: “Why make new stuff every year? I don’t believe we have to have more stuff. I believe a designer can use her talent to update a collection and also be sustainable.”
Photography is by Marc Eggimann.