Paavo Tynell - Finnish Modern Master of Light and Design


Paavo Tynell (1890-1973) was a Finnish industrial designer with a specialty in lighting design. He was also co-founder of the art metal work and lighting company Oy Taito Ab and had a successful career as freelance designer for various international companies during 1950s and 1960s. Paavo Tynell was married to glass designer Helena Tynell (1918 - 2016).

Paavo Tynell started his career in Helsinki in the beginning of 20th century as a tinsmith, but developed quickly into a fine blacksmith, specializing on metal finishes. While working for Koru OY, a Finnish art metal forging company, Tynell qualified as a master craftsman in 1913. At the same time he was studying in Taideteollisuus Keskuskoulu (nowadays Helsinki University of Industrial Arts), where he ultimately worked as a teacher, due to his impeccable skills of knowing and using different materials and finishes. Many later international Finnish designers were studying under his guidance at the time, Kaj Franck and Gunnel Nyman to name a few, who both also later became his colleagues.

In 1918 Paavo Tynell started his own company Oy Taito Ab together with Gösta Serlachius, Emil Wickström, Eric Ehrström and Frans Nykänen. In the beginning the company created various metal objects, from industrial lighting to more demanding art metal work, such as statues, railings and silverware. However, as one of the first producers of lighting fixtures in Finland in the beginning of 20th century, Taito Oy began to focus more on lamps during 1930s, with Paavo Tynell as their head designer and CEO. Due to Tynell´s great contacts with architect colleagues, the company co-operated with several well known finnish architects, Alvar Aalto being the most notable one. The Company produced fixtures for all of Alvar Aalto's major projects, such as Paimio sanatorium (1929-1933), Savoy restaurant (1937),  and Viipuri library (1935). As dominating plaeyr on the Finnish lighting market, Oy Taito Ab designed and manufactured lighting for numerous public buildings in Finland until 1950s, such as the Finnish Parliament House, Hotel Vaakuna, Lasipalatsi  complex and Helsinki Central Railway Station. They also won several international awards for their products, recognitions at the Barcelona World Exhibition in 1929 and Milan Triennale in 1933 being the most prestigious ones.

A true turning point for the company was after the Second World War in 1947, when Tynell became involved with the Finland House, a gallery-showroom, restaurant and office building, located in central New York and owned by the Finnish-American Trading Company. Paavo Tynell designed all lighting for the restaurant and the gallery, where his designs were also showcased permanently. Due to Tynell´s unique style, which was very different compared to anything else available in North America, his designs gained appraisals all over the press, most notably by Life Magazine, Interiors Magazine and The New York Times. The designer was especially appraised for His organic design idiom executed in a modern way, mixed with an extensive use of perforated and polished brass as material. Positive publicity led Tynell to collaborate with major international architects and interior designers, by designing custom made lighting fixtures for several hotels, department stores, offices and private residences across the country. Although Paavo Tynell´s designs were marketed under the name Finland House, all were taito products and they continued to produce all items in Helsinki. Even a trademark TT: Taito-Tynell was in use at some point for the international market, higlighting the importance of the company´s designer.

In 1953, the majority of Oy Taito Ab was bought by another Finnish lighting company, Idman Oy, a business partner they´ve been co-operating with over the years. idman decided to re-organize company´s production and business administration, and to give up using taito as a brand. despite losing the brand he was once creating, this all led to a new, even more international career for Tynell. Since Idman wanted to focus more on series produced articles, the following year he started to design as freelance designer also for the American lighting company Lightcraft Inc. and soon after for another american company Lightolier Inc. for the american market tynell was able to do style wise more flamboyant and grand designs than what he could have done originally for Taito, by creating his own interpretation of popular post-war american style. at lightolier inc. paavo tynell worked alongside with their in-house designer, american industrial designer gerald thurston. 

At The same time tynell continued to collaborate with American and other international architects, and designed also numerous custom fixtures for private clients. The best known example from this era is his lighting design for the office of the Secretary General in the United Nations building in New York, 1952. The smaller and earlier variation of the so called UN-lamp had already won the first prize by the American Interior Decorator´s competition for best lighting design in 1950. In Finland Tynell continued to work with various architects during 1950s, especially with Finnish architect and interior designer Aarne Ervi, who frequently used his designs in most of his projects, including Tapiola housing project (several locations in Espoo, Finland), major power plant constructions with residential areas in Northern Finland as well as in numerous private residences. 

After almost a decade of productive marketing and trade of Finnish design, The Finnish-American Trading Company decided to sell The Finland House property in 1957 and it was also decided not to continue running the gallery separately. However, successful collaboration with Lightolier continued all the way until 1964 and part of the production was even handled by Taito/Idman in Finland. Tynell continued designing regularly for Idman as well until early 1960s and the company continued to produce their most popular lamp design ever by tynell, square and rectangular-shaped "starry sky" ceiling lamp all the way until late 1970s in different variations. originally model 9068 had been designed as early as mid 1940s for taito oy. 

even working extensively in the us, paavo tynell staid living permanently in tuusula, finland, where he eventually passed away in 1973.


Awards and Recognitions:
 
-     MoMA (Museum of Modern Art, New York): First Award in Good Design, 1951.
-     American Insitute of Decorators: First Award in Lighting Design, 1950.
-     American Insitute of Decorators: Excellence in Design Award, 1952.
 
Career:

-     G. W. SOHLBERG: TINSMITH, 1906-1912
-     TAIDETAKOMO KORU: FINE BLACKSMITH, 1912-1916
-     HERMAN GANTZER: FINE BLACKSMITH, 1913
-     OY TAITO AB: CO-FOUNDER, CEO AND HEAD DESIGNER, 1918-1953
-     IDMAN-TAITO OY: DESIGNER, 1953-1958
-     LITECRAFT INC.: DESIGNER, 1954-1958
-     LIGHTOLIER INC.: DESIGNER, 1958-1964

 
notable works:
 
-     MODEL NO. 9068 CEILING LAMPS IN 3 DIFFERENT SIZES (AKA STARRY SKY), TAITO OY, C.1946.
-     CHANDELIER WITH MESH SNOWFLAKES (AKA SNOWFLAKE), 1947, TAITO OY.
-     COUNTER BALANCE CEILING LAMP, MODEL A 1965, TAITO OY, 1948.
-     ceiling lamp model no. 9060 (aka UN-lamp), 1950
-     MODEL NO. 9224 TABLE LAMP (AKA THE HORSE SHOE LAMP), TAITO OY C.1953.


-     RESTAURANT KAUPUNGINKELLARI, HELSINKI, 1947: LIGHTING DESIGN
-     RESTAURANT TERVAHOVI, OULU, FINLAND, 1941: LIGHTING DESIGN
-     MOVIE THEATER KINEMA, LAHTI, 1946: LIGHTING DESIGN INCL. MONUMENTAL CEILING LAMPS IN BRASS AND OPALINE GLASS
-     MOVIE THEATER KINO-PALATSI, TURKU, 1936: LIGHTING DESIGN
-     RESTAURANT KUUSI HOK, HELSINKI, FINLAND 1947: LIGHTING DESIGN
-     KONTIOLAHTI CHURCH, RENOVATION 1952: LIGHTING DESIGN
-     KALLIO CHURCH,HELSINKI, FINLAND, 1932: MONUMENTAL CHANDELIERS
-     FINNISH SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS, HELSINKI, ARCHITECTS WOLDERMAR BAECKMAN & HUGO HARMIA, 1950: LIGHTING DESING
-     RESTAURANT KESTIKARTANO, HELSINKI, 1946: LIGHTING DESIGN, TAITO OY.-     KONTIOLAHTI CHURCH, RENOVATION 1952: LIGHTING DESIGN
-     KUOPIO CHILDREN´S HOSPITAL AND RESIDENTIAL BUILDINGS, KUOPIO, FINLAND 1950: LIGHTING DESIGN
-     HOTEL MERIHOVI, KEMI, FINLAND, ARHICTECT VELI KLAMI 1946-1949: LIGHTING DESIGN
-     ÅBO AKADEMI STUDENT HOUSE, ARCHITECT ERIK BRYGGMAN, TURKU, FINLAND 1951: LIGHTING DESIGN
-     CAFÉ EKBERG, HELSINKI, RENOVATION 1951: LIGHTING DESIGN
-     HELSINKI CENTRAL RAILWAY STATION, RENOVATION 1951 (1961): LIGHTING DESIGN INCL.MONUMENTAL CHANDELIERS, LATER RESTAURANT LIGHTING DESIGN
-     THE FINLAND HOUSE GALLERY-SHOWROOM, NEW YORK, 1948: LIGHTING DESIGN
-     PYHÄKOSKI POWERPLANT AND LEPPINIEMI RESIDENTIAL AREA, ARCHITECT AARNE ERVI 1942-1951: LIGHTING DESIGN IN COLLABORATION WITH ALVAR AALTO
-     TAPIOLA TOWERS AND KEILARANTA, ESPOO, FINLAND, 1952-1954, ARCHITECT AARNE ERVI: LIGHTING DESIGN
-     THE CHAPEL OF RESURRECTION, TURKU, FINLAND, ARCHITECT ERIK BRYGGMAN, 1941: LIGHTING DESING IN COLLABORATION WITH  BRYGGMAN
-     HOTEL AULANKO, HÄMEENLINNA, FINLAND, ARCHITECTS MÄRTA BLOMSTEDT & MATTI LAMPÉN 1938: LIGHTING DESING IN COLLABORATION WITH ARCHITECTS
-     SOKOS HOTEL VAAKUNA, HELSINKI, ARCHITECT ERKKI HUTTUNEN, 1949-1952: LIGHTING DESIGN
-     MEILAHTI CHURCH & TOMAS CHURCH, ARHICTECT MARKUS TAVIO, 1953-1954: LIGHTING DESIGN, CANDELABRAS AND FONT
-     THE OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY GENERAL IN THE UNITED NATIONS BUILDING, NEW YORK, 1951: LIGHTING DESIGN INCL. CEILING LIGHT MODEL 9060.
-     HAHNE´S DEPARTEMENT STORE, MONTCLAIR, NEW YERSEY 1951: MONUMENTAL CHANDELIERS
-     ÅLAND´S SHIPPING MUSEUM AND NAUTICAL CLUB, MARIENHAMN, ARCHITECT JONAS CEDERCREUTZ 1948: LIGHTING DESIGN
-     WIVEX RESTAURANT, COPENHAGEN, DENMARK, ARCHITECT ERNST KÜHN 1946: CUSTOM-MADE WALL SCONCES.
-     RESTAURANT KOLME KRUUNUA, HELSINKI, 1952: LIGHTING DESIGN
-     SUOMALAINEN YHTEISKOULU, CELEBRATION HALL, HELSINKI, RENOVATION 1949: MONUMENTAL CEILING LIGHTS.
-     LAHTI OLD CHURCH, RENOVATION C.1950-1952: LIGHTING DESIGN
-     LASTENLINNA, HELSINKI, ARCHITECTS KAARLO BORG, ELSI BORG, OTTO FLODIN & OLAVI SORTTA 1948: LIGHTING DESIGN WITH LISA JOHANSSON-PAPE
-     RESTAURANT LAULUMIEHET, HELSINKI, FINLAND, 1949: LIGHTING DESIGN
-     BIO VUOKSI, IMATRA, FINLAND, ARCHITECTS MÄRTA BLOMSTEDT & MATTI LAMPÉN1952-1954: LIGHTING DESIGN INCL.MOMUMENTAL CEILING LIGHTS
-     RESTAURANT WALHALLA, SUOMENLINNA, HELSINKI, 1949-1951, INTERIOR ARCHITECT AULIS BLOMSTEDT: PERFORATED BRASS WALL LIGHTS
-     ANTINKÄRKI, PRIVATE RESIDENCE, VALKEAKOSKI, FINLAND 1953, ARCHITECT PEKKA SAAREMA: LIGHTING DESIGN.
-     WICHITA MUNICIPAL AIRPORT, TERMINAL BUILDING, 1953, USA, ARCHITECTS GLEN H.THOMAS & A.B.HARRIS: LIGHTING DESIGN
-     1430 BROADWAY, NEW YORK, 1953, ARCHITECTITECTS EMERY ROTH & SONS: LIGHTING DESIGN FOR THE MAIN LOBBY
-     PHILADELPHIA NATIONAL BANK, USA 1953, ARCHITECTS HARBESON, HOUGH, LIVINGSTON & LARSON: LIGHTING DESIGN
-     HOTEL FONTAINEBLEU, MIAMI, FLORIDA, 1952, ARCHITECT MORRIS LAPIDUS: LIGHTING DESIGN FOR THE RESEPTION AREAS
-     congregation center, Lohja, Finland, 1951, architect aarne ervi: LIGHTING DESIGN