Maija Heikinheimo (1908 – 1963) was a Finnish designer and interior decorator who studied at the University of Art and Design in Helsinki between 1929 and 1932. She started her career at Asko (Asko Avonius Huonekalutehtaat / f. 1918) , one of the larger furniture manufacturers in Finland at the time, as its first in-house designer in 1932. She was instrumental in developing ‘wooden functionalism’ and made several signature furniture pieces such as her iconic side table and different chair models. Her career at Asko lasted for three years until 1935 when she left to work at Artek, the newly founded furniture company by Alvar Aalto, Aino Aalto, Nils-Gustav Hahl and Maire Gullichsen.
At Artek, Heikinheimo designed various items such as a coffee set, a mirror and a tray using brass and copper in her work. She also created furniture such as sideboards and chair variations, but she mainly focused on interior decoration and fairs and serving as Alvar Aalto’s right hand and as Artek’s artistic director 1937-1941 and in other positions 1945-1963.
Many of Artek’s furniture drawings were signed with Aalto’s name, as was the practice at the time, and it therefore difficult to know who is the actual designer. Maija Heikinheimo only signed designs that were considered “less important” with ”MHho”.
After Artek’s co-founder Aino Aalto passed away in 1949, Heikinheimo served as Artek’s managing director until 1955, after which Maire Gullichsen took over the role.
Maire Gullichsen founded Norrmark Handicraft in 1961 together with designer Bertel Gardberg and Heikinheimo was tasked with designing furniture for the company. She created a safari chair and a few stools, which would prove to be some of her last work. Sinikka Killinen, who was an interior designer and designer of rugs and other fabric items, also designed for Norrmark Handicraft and was a friend of Heikinheimo. Heikinheimo moved to one of Killinen’s flats in Degerö in Helsinki in 1959 and passed away in 1963.
- Maija Heikinheimo (1908 – 1963)
- Received the Pro Finlandia medal in 1959
- Exhibitions and furnishings
- The apartment exhibition in Noormarkku (1946)
- The Säynätsalo Town Hall (1950)
- H55 in Hälsingborg (1955)
- The Social Insurance Institution building (Kela) (1956)
- International Architectural Exhibition Interbau (1957)
- Finnish Design Ltd in Haymarket, London (1958)
- Museum of Central Finland (1960)
- Several exhibits for the Union for Industrial Design in Finland
- Best known for her work at Asko and Artek and close work with the Aaltos.
Interview with the Heikinheimo family 29.8.2021