Alvar Aalto designed his first items of furniture even before he had become a qualified architect. After qualification, as a young architect, the design of artefacts took on a fairly important role in his office and he designed pieces of furniture for various clients, tinged with the revivalist styles that followed the spirit of the age. Already at the end of the 1920s, he started to investigate the latest trends in the architectural field and modern international furniture design. Paimio Sanatorium (1929-1933) was the first building Aalto designed that was furnished entirely with his own factory-made furniture.
Aalto's modern furniture is essentially linked with inventions about the bending of wood. He was granted patents on several of these inventions in a number of different countries in the 1930s 40s and 50s. According to Alvar Aalto's design principles, the interior design and furnishings had to be in harmony with the architectural style of the building.
As far as design was concerned, Aalto was driven by an interest in glass since it provided an opportunity to handle the material in a new kind of way using free forms. In 1936, Alvar Aalto took part in an invited exhibition held by the Karhula-Iittala glass factory. His series of glass works ‘Eskimoerindens skinnbuxa’ (The Eskimo Woman's Leather Breeches) won the competition. These winning vases were first displayed to the public at the Paris World Exposition in 1937. One of the models was also chosen to be part of the new Restaurant Savoy’s furnishings. This design of vase came to be known by the name of the restaurant – Savoy.