Pieces of Nordic Happiness

Ilmari Tapiovaara | Lighting

Ilmari Tapiovaara (1914-1999) was a renowned Finnish interior architect and designer. In his designs, Tapiovaara always sought to create a humane, well-lit and warm dwelling environment. Tapiovaara’s furniture pieces designed were always part of a whole, with the architecture as their starting point.

Ilmari Tapiovaara graduated in 1937 as interior architect from the department of furniture design of the Central School of Arts and Crafts. After graduating, he visited the Paris World’s Fair and during his stay in France he got an assistant’s position for six months at the office of Le Corbusier. Soon after coming back to Finland, Tapiovaara was hired by the Asko company, Finland’s largest furniture factory, where he worked as a designer and artistic director for a few years. Alongside dozens of chairs and other furniture pieces mostly for public premises, Tapiovaara also designed interiors for numerous banks, offices, hotels and shops since the 1940s. His most famous designs include TT40 table, Tale stool, Trienna table, Mademoiselle chair and rocking chair.

Of all materials, wood was the closest to Tapiovaara’s heart. The designer admired the works of Alvar Aalto and wanted to carry on Aalto’s ideas in his own design work. This was evident in applying wood to the idiom of functionalism and industrial production and in the fact that Tapiovaara adopted the principle of social equality of functionalism. Tapiovaara was also a teacher at the department of interior design at the Institute of Applied Arts and at the Helsinki University of Technology, where he sought to reform teaching towards industrial product design with the aid of international examples.

Ilmari Tapiovaara was awarded a total of six Gold Medals at the Milan Triennials of 1951, 1954, 1957, 1960 and 1964. He also received the Good Design Award in Chicago in 1951, Pro Finlandia medal in 1959, Finnish State Design Prize in 1971 and Furniture Prize of the SIO Interior Architects’ Association of Finland in 1990.

Read the story about Ilmari Tapiovaara >

Ilmari Tapiovaara has designed pieces for the following brands: Artek, Pihlgren ja Ritola, Santa & Cole

6 products

6 products

The most comprehensive lamp store for Nordic designer lamps

If you’re looking to buy a new designer lamp in Scandinavian style, you've come to the right lamp store! We at Finnish Design Shop love good lighting design, Nordic aesthetics and high quality. Possibly because of the long and dark winters of the North, lighting has a very special place in our hearts. We like to have proper general lighting in the whole house, but we also enjoy turning off the main lights and switching on smaller mood lights for a cosy ambience. Finnish Design Shop’s carefully curated lighting shop is filled with some of our favourite designer lamps ranging from ceiling lamps to table lamps, floor lamps and wall lamps.

The focus of our lighting shop is on modern Scandinavian lighting supplemented with some of our favourite designer lamps from elsewhere in the world. If you’re looking for a mid-century style designer lamp from Scandinavia, you can start by discovering the iconic Alvar Aalto lamps by Artek, Poul Henningsen lamps by Louis Poulsen and Svend Aage Holm-Sørensen lamps by Warm Nordic. For more contemporary Nordic lighting, check out the collections of Pholc, Menu, Nuura and Secto Design. For those captivated by Italian designer lighting, we stock a versatile range of classics by Oluce, Flos, Foscarini and Artemide. The list could go on and on, but just a few more: the Marset lamps from Spain are always a joy to the eye, the Danish brands Le Klint and GUBI represent Scandinavian elegance at its best, and the British designer lamps by Tom Dixon are just simply gorgeous!

What is a good way of using lights in your space?

Balanced lighting consists of three basic layers of light: ambient lighting, task lighting and accent lighting. Ambient lighting, or general lighting, is most often created with at least partially diffused ceiling lights that provide the overall light to a room. Task lighting refers to more direct light, for example desk lamps, floor lamps and wall lamps, that you use for tasks such as reading, cooking and doing makeup. Accent lighting is used for highlighting single objects or features as well as creating mood lighting or decorative lighting in the room. 

Lighting design is a form of art, and it takes a special eye to create an optimal balance between all the luminaires in the space. Style-wise, you can aim for a coherent line or play with contrasts – the most important thing is that the luminaire is made of quality materials that stand the test of time. Whether you’re looking for a strong statement piece or a luminaire that seamlessly blends into the decor, we've got you covered! We enjoy bold and sculptural chandeliers that really stand out, but we also love the feeling when the whole decor has that harmonious, understated and uniform look. The diffused glow of opal glass lamps works in any interior, as well as the organic appearance of ceramic or wooden lampshades. For example, a bold industrial-style metal lamp can pair beautifully with a rice paper lampshade, and brass or marble details give a sophisticated touch for any kind of setting.

How to choose your new lamp?

When buying a new lamp, start by thinking about what kind of lighting you wish to acquire. A hanging pendant light or a flush-mounted ceiling light with a diffuser is a good option for ambient lighting with no glare, whereas a direct spotlight or desk lamp is a great choice when you want to highlight only some parts of the room or need light for working. If you’re looking for a bedside lamp, the light should be bright enough for reading but gentle enough to not fill the whole room with light. And for decorative mood lighting, it’s best to pick a lamp that provides a warm, diffused glow. It’s wise to pay special attention to the size of your new lamp: if the lamp is too large for the room and has no empty space around it, it might create a cramped feeling – and respectively, if you choose a tiny lamp for ample space, it might not stand out or provide enough light.

It is a good idea to choose at least one dimmable lamp for the room because a dimmable luminaire will have a wide range of uses. In terms of light sources, you can choose either a lamp with an integrated LED unit or a classic luminaire with a replaceable bulb. And in case you want to carry your lamp out to the patio, check out our selection of portable and cordless lamps. We also stock a versatile selection of weatherproof outdoor lamps. When you’ve finally found your new luminaire, check if you need to purchase light bulbs or any additional accessories: our selection of lighting accessories is filled with standard LED bulbs as well as eye-catching decorative bulbs.

How can I light a room with no overhead lights?

When traditional ceiling lights are not an option, there are still plenty of ways to create good ambient lighting for the space. Look for wall lamps, floor lamps and table lamps that reflect light through a wall or ceiling – this is a great way to add non-glare light to the room, particularly in spaces with white surfaces. Plug-in ceiling lights are also great for this purpose. Especially in larger spaces, it is highly recommended to place several light sources around the room. Complement the setting with spotlights for accent lighting and a task light if needed, and add lantern-like table lamps or portable lamps for mood lighting.

Where to get inspiration for home lighting?

To help you with the selection of your new designer lamp, we picked a few articles from our online magazine Design Stories. These stories provide you with inspirational tips and ideas for your home as well as deeper insights into some of the most famous Scandinavian lighting designs:

9 tips for home lighting – shop your favourites >
Bedroom lighting ideas from our lamp store – 6 layers of light >
Find an ideal design lamp for each room of the house >
Poul Henningsen – master of soft light >
Paavo Tynell created artistic light >