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Erik Gunnar Asplund



1885 Stockholm
1940 Stockholm

Erik Gunnar Asplund is regarded as the most important 20th-century Swedish architect. He started off by studying painting at the Stockholm Royal Art Institute 1905-1909. At the same time, however, he had always been interested in architecture so he also attended the free Architecture School in Stockholm. After extensive travels in Greece and Italy, Erik Gunnar Asplund opened an architectural pracice in Stockholm. The early buildings he designed between 1911 and 1930 are, like the furniture he designed at the time, in the Neo-Classical style. "Senna", a chair he designed in 1915 for a public library is typical in this respect. The plan drawn up jointly in 1915 by Erik Gunnar Asplund and Sigurd Lewerentz for enlarging the grounds of the Stockholm Crematorium attracted a great deal of attention. The cemetery is integrated harmoniously in a wooded landscape featuring hills, level ground and glades as a mortuary glade in which the graves become part of the natural environment. It took from 1915 to 1940 to complete the cemetery, including several mortuary chapels and other buildings; in 1994 it was declared a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site. Another important building designed by Erik Gunnar Asplund is the Stockholm City Library (1924-1928). In 1930 Asplund was head architect of the important Stockholm Exhibition. At the same time Erik Gunnar Asplund switched to a functional style inspired by the Bauhaus. The "Paradiset" restaurant Erik Gunnar Asplund designed specially for the Exhibition was the first building in Sweden in the International Modern style. The radical change in style also shows up in Erik Gunnar Asplund's furniture designs; he now began to design chairs and other seat furniture with steel tubular frames, such as the 1931 "Karmstol" chair. There was "no longer a need for old cultural forms," wrote Erik Gunnar Asplund in 1931 as co-author of a Modernist manifesto. Erik Gunnar Asplund was a friend of Alvar Aalto's and, in obituary of his friend, Asplund wrote: "Contact with nature, including people, was visibly present in all his projects."

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