Pieces of Nordic Happiness

Ilmari Tapiovaara | Table lamps

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

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Shop table lamps & reading lamps from the best Nordic brands

Table lamps and reading lamps bring a beautiful combination of practicality and aesthetics to an interior. As well as lighting its surroundings, a table lamp can be an eye-catching, sculptural element of interior decor, even when switched off. 

We at Finnish Design Shop have curated a wide range of table lamps and reading lamps from Scandinavia and beyond. Our lamp shop includes beautiful Nordic table lamps by classic and more contemporary brands such as Artek, Louis Poulsen, Design House Stockholm and Secto Design. And, of course, we have a whole range of table lamp designs by Alvar Aalto, as well as the well-loved Double Bubble lamp by Finnish designer Eero Aarnio. And for more minimalist options from Nordic brands, you might want to explore the timeless table lamps by Menu, &Tradition and New Works. Besides Scandinavian design, also South-European lighting design is widely represented in our selection. For impressive classics from Italy, see the selections of the legendary lighting brands Oluce, Flos, Artemide and Kartell. And for Spanish lighting design, be sure not to miss the well-known Spanish brands Marset and Santa & Cole.

Our selection of table lamp designs ranges from small table lamps for accent lighting to larger eyecatchers and high-quality desk lamps. Feel free to explore our wide selection to shop for a new table lamp for your home – and remember that table lamps are also great gift ideas when you want to give an unforgettable, timeless and functional gift.

How do I choose a table lamp?

Start by thinking about where you intend to use your new table lamp. Reading lamps, study lamps and desk lamps often have an adjustable arm and shade for directing light where you prefer. Diffused opal glass shades or delicate Asian-style paper shades, on the other hand, can be used to create dimmer mood lighting and window lighting. Modern table lamps can also have a range of technical features, such as a touch dimmer switch, timer or rechargeable battery. In bedside table lamps, a dimmer is very handy for adjusting between bright reading light and softer lighting, and touch bedside table lamps make it easy to turn the light on without having to search for the light switch.

The material and colour of your new table lamp can follow the style of your home decor or contrast with the rest of the interior, as long as it pleases your eye. Our collection includes designer table lamps made from a selection of luxurious natural materials such as marble, brass, ceramic and wood. Steel, aluminium and plastic are also very popular and durable material choices. In terms of lampshades, one of the most used materials in table lamps is glass, either fully transparent or white opal glass. Lampshades made of paper or resin are also great options for giving the light a gentle, diffused glow. In general, we recommend choosing a diffused shade for soft mood lighting and a shade with direct, non-diffused light when you’re looking for a table lamp for reading or working.

How to place a table lamp?

Table lamps are particularly needed on bedside tables and desks, and they cast a pleasant, warm light when placed on a shelf or as window lights. A table lamp can also be a bright study lamp or spotlight, which can be directed downwards at a tabletop or towards a wall. Many cordless or portable table lamps can be used both indoors and outside, and our range of outdoor lamps includes elegant patio table lights and other table lamps suitable for outdoor use.

How many lumens do I need for a table lamp?

Select a light bulb for your table lamp based on its function and the size of the space. When using a LED bulb, about 450 lumens – equivalent to a 40-watt incandescent lamp – should be enough for general purposes, such as reading. Lower lumen values are well suited for mood lighting or decorative lighting. If you need particularly efficient light for working, the brightness can vary from about 800 to even 2500 lumens depending on the size of the room. 

Of course, the light source's power and colour temperature greatly affect the overall result – the same lamp might serve in multiple situations by using a dimmer or different light bulbs. The lamp shade's colour also affects the tone of light: light-coloured shades generally give more light to the room, whereas darker colours are perfect when you want to enjoy a dimmer feel. It is also possible to place a table lamp next to a mirror to increase the intensity of light.

New ideas for table lamp shopping

Looking for inspiration and ideas on using table lamps in your home decor? Or are you interested in recent product launches and new table lamp designs by Nordic brands? To help you out, we picked a few stories from our online magazine Design Stories that you might find interesting:

Double the luminance – introducing 5 white table lamps to brighten up your home >
9 portable table lamps – bring light wherever you go >
6 lamps for creating varied and effective lighting >
The Beam Lamp from Muuto lights up two areas at the same time >