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Saturday, May 14, 2011

I.C.F., Inc.

A few months ago we found an Alvar Aalto Paimio chair on Craigslist. We knew it was a wonderful piece, but we weren't sure how old it was, since the design is still in production by Artek, the Finnish company founded in 1935 by Aalto, his wife Aino, and their friends Maire Gullichsen and Nils-Gustav Hahl.

We did some preliminary research on the piece, but we got busy opening the store, and we never followed up. Today a customer emailed, asking for additional information about the chair, so we finally got back to our search. He specifically asked about any labels that might still be intact, and my SIL found one marked I.C.F. that we weren't sure about.

The company is still in business but had no Paimio chairs on their website. Only when we used "Artek" and "I.C.F." as search terms did we get the full picture.  It turns out that I.C.F., Inc. was started in 1962 and was the first American company to distribute furniture designed by European architects. They started with Alvar Aalto's designs in 1962. In the 70s they added pieces by Arne Jacobsen. I.C.F. is still the American distributor for Fritz Hansen, Artek, and Thonet, among others, although it appears that they only distributed the Paimio chair from 1962-1986. While that doesn't give us a definitive date, it certainly narrows the time frame.

Our Alvar Aalto "Paimio" chair


  1. It looks like a chair in Dr Suess's waiting room! Which is a good thing, of course.

  2. @DearHelenHartman: I'd never thought about it looking Dr. Seuss-ish, but I guess it kinda does. :) That sounds a lot happier than what it was really designed for...a tuberculosis sanitarium.