for Artek + Heath
This temporary, interactive exhibition in Vitra’s downtown Manhattan headquarters was designed for the launch of a collection of special edition Finnish-American furniture, designed collaboratively by Artek and Heath. The collection included Heath interpretations of Artek classics, such as Alvar Aalto’s Tea Trolley 900 with custom glazed tiles, and silkscreened iterations of the iconic Stool 60.
The Artek + Heath installation by The Archers imagined a fictional meeting between Edith Heath and Alvar Aalto, set during the period of their creative primacy. The two designers never met in person, despite their overlapping interests in expressing the modern through natural materials and handcraft, and their respective successes in the Mid-Century design world.
The Archers, in collaboration with Vitra, staged a hypothetical design summit as the outcome of the imagined meetings and correspondence between Heath and Aalto. Set in a midtown hotel in the early nineteen-sixties , the iconic designers’ collaborative dialogue spreads out across the ballroom and lounge. Visitors encounter a meeting just vacated; a slide reel still spinning, an empty podium stacked with copious notes, process chalkboard drawings and paperwork strewn across an enormous assembly of classic Aalto tables, with cigarettes recently discarded in the Heath ashtrays dotting the ‘Sausalito Lounge.’ The jewel of their product partnership -- an Aalto 900 Trolley clad in Heath tiles -- silently rotates on a display stand like a swanky new car unveiled for the first time at a trade exhibit.
Photography: Eric Petschek