Tea Trolley 900By Alvar Aalto
Making its international debut at the 1937 Paris World Exhibition, the Tea Trolley 900 encapsulates Finnish architect and designer Alvar Aalto’s (1898–1976) influential approach to modernism through its emphasis on local materials and elegant pragmatism. A modern take on the traditional British tea cart, it is a versatile domestic object: It can be rolled up for dinner, tucked away in a corner for housing odds and ends or presented as a striking centerpiece. With a ceramic tile serving tray, a handmade rattan basket for storage and two large wheels lined with rubber to offer quiet and easy movement, every aspect is aimed at fulfilling a function, down to its supporting closed curves of laminated form-bent Finnish birch, which recall the Japanese woodwork Aalto had experienced while traveling.
The Tea Trolley 900 was one of the furniture objects produced in the early years of the Artek company, formed by Aalto and his wife, Aino, with Maire Gullichsen and Nils-Gustav Hahl to “promote a modern culture of living.” Artek brought to the mass market Aalto’s take on International Style, which celebrated the beauty of exposed wood, including still popular pieces like the stackable Stool 60 and plywood Paimio armchair.
The Tea Trolley 900 is also demonstrative of Aalto’s ongoing efforts to innovate with his own designs. Before the Tea Trolley 900, there was the Tea Trolley 901, a sleeker version with two tiers of linoleum trays that was exhibited at the Milan Triennale. Each piece, with its big wheels and dynamic wooden frame, brings some drama to the home while exemplifying the values of Scandinavian design.
Alvar Aalto Tea Cart 900
Mid-20th Century Finnish Mid-Century Modern Carts and Bar Carts
Vintage 1930s Finnish Scandinavian Modern Carts and Bar Carts
Ceramic, Birch, Lacquer
Vintage 1970s Finnish Scandinavian Modern Carts and Bar Carts
Ceramic, Rattan, Birch