An unusual mid-century Finnish brass adjustable wall light with a scalloped, perforated shade with an opaline diffuser below, by Paavo Tynell.
Paavo Tynell, described in his country as “The man who illuminated Finland” was born in Helsinki on January 25th, 1890. He began his career at Helsinki’s University of Applied Arts and subsequently got a job working for Koru, a jewellery manufacturer. He qualified as a master craftsman in 1913, and then went back to study at Helsinki’s main College of Art and Design where he would later teach. In 1918 Tynell was one of the founders of Taito Oy, becoming one of the main designers and an active partner in the firm, which with the innovation of electricity, quickly specialized in lamps and lighting fixtures.
In 1919, he joined the Society of Finnish Decorative Artists, Ornamo, and became President of this organisation, first from 1927 to 1929 and then from 1936 to 1945. This position allowed him to develop many successful collaborations, such as with Johan Sigfrid Sirén, who was in charge of building Helsinki’s new Parliament, and in 1926 called upon Taito to develop several features in of this building. Through Ornamo Tynell also became acquainted with Alvar Aalto in 1929, commencing a fruitful professional relationship to last many years. For instance, Aalto notably mandated Taito for the manufacture of light fixtures at the Sanatorium situated in the town of Paimio and those of the Villa Mairea, on Finland’s West coast, in 1937.
Taito was also the recipient of many awards such as at the Barcelona Exhibition of 1929, where the company was awarded a certificate of honour for a massive metal globe which spun slowly upon its axis, represented the five continents and illuminated the seas with blue glass. The Company also received a prize at the Milan Triennial in 1933 as well as a certificate of Honour at the Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne (International Exhibition dedicated to Art and Technology in Modern Life), in Paris, in 1937. Having become the first producer of light fixtures in Finland, Taito Oy was involved in many notable projects for public buildings, such as its contribution for the full renovation of Helsinki’s Swedish Theatre in 1937.
In the forties Helena Turpeinen was hired by Taito, and not only did she became increasingly involved in the company, but she and Tynell were married in 1947. In the following years, Tynell developed his unique style. Inspired by nature, he blended copper, wicker or leather, with the drawing of sculptural shapes reminiscent of the branches of trees, leaves and seashells. Important projects during this time included the Vaakuna Hotel and The Kestikartano restaurant (“Party Manor”). At this restaurant he installed an amazing “Snowflake” chandelier in 1946, made up of a cascade of snowflakes in the shape of ice crystals.
In 1948 Tynell expanded on an international scale through his involvement with Finland House, a restaurant, gallery and offices located on 50th Street in New York. The gallery presented Paavo Tynell light fixtures, which would prove to be the most popular feature of Finland House. His lighting was a great success in the press- published in Interiors magazines, Life Magazine and even a journalist from the New York Times wrote “A collection of modern lamps and lighting fixtures quite different from anything that has been available here was perhaps the most spectacular attraction at the Finnish Art Shop.” Furthermore, Tynell also received many orders from decorators for hotels, restaurants and banks. He created exceptional light fixtures for the Dallas Petroleum Club, Neiman Marcus department store and the Havana Casino in 1952. He also created the lighting for the UN Secretary General’s office in New York, where his creation was awarded first prize by the American Institute of Interior Decorators in 1951. Subsequently Lightolier, a prestigious lighting corporation, hired Tynell to draw models which were to be manufactured in the United States until the mid sixties.
In the latter years of his career, Tynell would design models which became increasingly abstract from his retreat in Tuusula. Tynell passed away in Tuusula during September 1973.
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