Alvar Aalto Furniture at the Mount Angel Abbey Library

Mt. Angel Abbey Library houses one of the largest collections of Alvar Aalto furniture in North America. The great majority of chairs, desks, tables, cabinets, shelving, and light fixtures in the Library are of Aalto design. Below are some of the more outstanding examples of the Library's Aalto furniture collection.

Armchair: cantilevered, laminated wood, padded, and upholstered seat and back (1932-1933). The zebra fabric was designed by Aalto's first wife.

Upholstered lounge chairs (1933) in the Music Room . The drapery fabric is also of Aalto design.

Chaise lounge, cantilevered, with webbing on an S-profile, rectangular frame, utilizing a single C-shaped piece of wood as both leg and armrest (1936-1937).


Tea trolley: sides, molded, laminated birch; top, tile (some models were covered with linoleum, others with birch); wheels, painted wood, rubber (1936).

The library auditorium is currently furnished in three kinds of Aalto chairs. The 15 large, leather-covered arm chairs are extremely solid. The arm and legs are formed out of a single piece of bent wood, shaped like an upside down "u." Weight is evenly distributed over the entire frame. The ninety armless chairs have a frame of natural birch and black leather webbing (1947). The curve in the front of the legs is divided into a "y." If the occupant leans back in the chair the weight is born by the laminated bow which joins seat and back; eventually the lamination is damaged.

Wing chairs: natural birch frame consisting of a backwards "c" which forms leg and arm; seat and back are foam cushioned plywood (1946). A very popular design. Between them is a round coffee table, one of many designs produced using Aalto's bent wood L-legs(1936).

The circulation island, like so many Aalto designs, is asymmetrical, features wood, and is eminently practical. From a point about the middle of the island, the library staff person has an unobstructed view up each aisle. The ceiling above the island features a wooden slatted ceiling and skylights, both Aalto characteristics.

The computer area features a number of Aalto tables, some slatted benches or luggage racks used to support printers, and an Aalto desk with a wooden Aalto desk pedestal or file cabinet of solid birch.

The famous three legged, L-leg stacking stools, arranged with fixed lighting for individual study. The bookshelves in the background are also of Aalto design.


Private study carrel. Note Aalto's cantilevered shelving, and the Aalto designed desk and chair.


The periodicals room is furnished with three-legged fan-legged table-stools with black upholstered seats (1955), a rectangular, fan-legged table (1955), with birch legs and an ash veneer top, a round, h-legged reading table which is one of the few examples of Aalto's use of metal to join wood(1955) (), and arm chairs on which the arm and legs are a single piece of bent birch, shaped like an upside down "u" (1947). The footstools and the shelving in the periodicals room are not Aalto designs.

These are just a few examples of Aalto designs for furniture and fixtures that are exhibited in the library. Please visit the library in person for a more in-depth view.