Ilmari Tapiovaara
Ilmari Tapiovaara with the chair
'Wilhelmiina' of his own design.
©Photograph: UIAH, 30099.
Photo: J.M. Eriksson
(7.IX.1914 - 31.I.1999) Interior Designer, Professor (1985)

Senior teacher of the Interior Design Department of the Institute of Industrial Art 1951-52 and 1953-54, teacher of Interior Design 1979-86.

  • The Central School of Applied Arts 1937
  • Study and lecturing trips to different countries in Europe, USA, South America, Africa, and the Far East
  • Worked in the studio of Le Corbusier 1937
  • Askon Tehtaat Oy (Asko Industries Ltd.), Art Director 1938-41
  • Keravan Puuteollisuus Oy, Artistic and Commercial Director of the Cabinetwork Factory 1941-51
  • Illinois Institute of Technology (Chicago), Assistant Professor 1952-53
  • ILO Expert in Paraguay 1959-60
  • Expert of the World Council of Churches - WCC, Geneva and Moscow 1964
  • UNIDO Expert in Mauritius 1974, 1975, Egypt 1974, Yugoslavia 1976, 1977
  • University of Technology, Helsinki, Visiting Lecturer in Interior Design 1965-69
  • Member of the Board of Ornamo 1944-45, 1957, Chairman 1959-68, Honorary Member 1978
  • Member of the State Committee of Industrial Art 1968-71
  • Honorary Member of SIO (The Finnish Association of Interior Designers 1986
  • Milano Triannale, gold medal 1951, 1954 (twice), 1957, 1960 and 1964
  • Good Design Award, Chicago 1950
  • AID Prize of American Institute of Interior Designers 1963
  • Prize of the Finnish Culture Foundation 1986
  • Furniture Prize of SIO 1990
  • Pro Finlandia 1959
  • The Finnish State Design Award 1971
  • Hon RDI (England) 1975

Total Interior Plans e.g. for:

  • Domus Academica, Helsinki 1947
  • The Technology Students' Campus, Otaniemi, Espoo 1951
  • Lauttasaari Church, Helsinki 1957
  • Hotel Marski, Helsinki 1961
  • Caravelle and Convair Aeroplanes of Finnair 1958-65
  • Montreal World's Fair, the 'Expo 67' pavilion, 1967
  • Leningrad Concert Hall, main furnishing, 1967
  • Inter-Continental restaurants and ballroom in Helsinki, 1971

He has designed furniture both for the home market and for exports, light fittings, Communion chalices and clothes, cutlery, glass etc.

In an interview in 1980 Tapiovaara expressed the wish that supplementary courses in international relations and work in developing countries would be arranged for the artists who had studied at the University of Industrial Arts (today University of Art and Design Helsinki UIAH). This wish reflects very well Tapiovaara's ideas and ideals, which he followed in his own life and in his work as a teacher.

Ilmari Tapiovaara took his design ideology from functionalism, the Bauhaus ideology, inspiration from Alvar Aalto, and from international influences. The pieces of art of his design are timeless, deliberately abstract, and pure of form. 'Only the simplest is best. Take away all that is unnecessary, develop the plasticity'.

'A designer can be compared with a surgeon. Once you know your trade, you can practice it anywhere. If your work is good, it will do everywhere'.

Peltonen, Jarno, Ilmari Tapiovaara - Sisustusarkkitehti - Inredningsarkitekt - Interior Architect, Exhibition Catalogue. The Museum of Applied Arts, Helsinki 1984.

Korvenmaa Pekka, Ilmari Tapiovaara. Clasicos del Diseño 5. Santa & Cole, Barcelona 1997.

Pictures of Works by Ilmari Tapiovaara

Vine flagon Chair Domus
Vine flagon, Communion chalice, cups
Silver. Lauttasaari Church, 1955

©Photograph: Museum of Applied Arts, 04719
Chair Domus,
Keravan Puuteollisuus, 1946

©Photograph: Museum of Applied Arts, 010098


Armchair Domus Chair Aslak
Armchair Domus
Keravan Puuteollisuus, 1946

©Photograph: Museum of Applied Arts, 04662
Chair Aslak
Asko, 1958

©Photograph: Museum of Applied Arts, 04672


Chair Wilhelmiina Wood Material
Chair Wilhelmiina
Wilh. Schauman, 1959

©Photograph: Museum of Applied Arts, 04689
Wood Material
©Photograph: Museum of Applied arts, 04712