Designer: Ilmari Tapiovaara

Often described as the designer who captured the essence of modern Finnish identity, Ilmari Tapiovaara made significant contributions to design in the post-war era. Wright celebrates the impact of Tapiovaara's design in the market achieving a nearly 90% sell-through rate for his work.
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A chair is not just a seat—it is the key to the whole interior.

Ilmari Tapiovaara

Additional Facts of Note

From 1952 to 1953, Tapiovaara taught as a visiting professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago during which time he also worked in the office of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

Significant design pieces manufactured by Artek from the Ilmari Tapiovaara collection include the Trienna table (1954), the Pirkka series (1955), the Tale stool (1956), and the Mademoiselle chair (1956)

In 2012, Artek made a short documentary film about the illustrious designer and his creative output.

Auction Results Ilmari Tapiovaara

Ilmari Tapiovaara 1914–1999

Often described as the designer who captured the essence of modern Finnish identity, Ilmari Tapiovaara made significant contributions to design in the post-war era. The architect and furniture designer admired the ideological beliefs of Alvar Aalto bringing functional design to everyone regardless of socioeconomic status. His high quality, but affordable work draws inspiration from the handicraftsmanship of traditional Finnish farmhouses most often created in birch wood. He designed furniture with the whole environment in mind including the architecture that surrounded it.

Tapiovaara came from a creative family—his grandfather a skilled carpenter, his older brothers Tapio a successful visual artist, and Nyrki a film director. At age 20 he enrolled in the Department of Furniture Design at the Central School of Applied Arts in Helsinki later graduating 1937. For a short time, he worked as an assistant in the office of Le Corbusier in Parisbefore returning to Finland, where he worked as an artistic director and designer for the country’s largest furniture manufacturer Asko Oy. His first designs were destroyed by bombings during the war and never produced.

The 1946 Domus chair is one of his most notable designs, created in collaboration with his wife and colleague, Annikki, as a stackable reading chair for the Domus Academica, a new student-housing complex in Helskini. The opportunity awarded Tapiovaara international recognition for his work on both the furniture and interiors of the student residence halls. The Domus chair was distributed to the masses in the United States by Knoll Associates in the early 1950s.

Together with Annikki, Tapiovaara opened a design studio not only for furniture but also interior architecture. Their projects included banks, offices, hotels and shops. Their son Timo joined the agency in 1967.

Tapiovaara was a widely celebrated designer awarded a total of six gold medals at the Milan Triennale, the Good Design Award in Chicago in 1951, the Pro Finlandia medal in 1959, the Finnish State Design Prize in 1971, and the Furniture Prize of the Finnish Association of Interior Architects SIO in 1990. In 2014, a year what would have marked Ilmari Tapiovaara’s 100th birthday, the Design Museum in Helsinki held a major retrospective of his work.

To learn more about a work by Ilmari Tapiovaara in your collection, contact our specialists.
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