A Leader with the Soul of an Artist

Writer: Suvi Hirvi / Photo: Mairea Foundation

Maire Gullichsen, a promoter and patron of Finnish modern art, was born to the Ahlström family in 1907, in Noormarkku, Pori. In the 1930s, Ahlström was the largest industrial company in Finland.

– Maire studied art at a Parisian art school at the age of 17. In the 1930s, Maire married the honorary counsellor Harry Gullichsen. The couple took over the Ahlström company, says Saida Lindroos, a representative of the Mairea Foundation.

In 1935, together with her friends Alvar and Aino Aalto, Maire founded the Artek (Art & Technology) furniture brand, which combined art, science and technology. Maire, Alvar and Aino also designed the functionalist Kauttua Terrace House in Eura, and Villa Mairea in Noormarkku, Pori. Maire devoted her life to art. In 1981, Maire was involved in establishing the first museum of contemporary art in Finland, the Pori Art Museum.


– Maire was a leader with the soul of an artist. This was reflected in her outfits. In the morning, she was a painter in rubber boots, and in the evening, she transformed into an elegant business woman in heels.


Villa Mairea, built in 1939, and its Artek furniture bear the stamp of its builders Maire and Harry Gullichsen, as well as its architects Alvar and Aino Aalto.

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Writer: Sonja Sjögren / Photo: Tomi Glad