Designing not for the few, but for the many was a guiding principle for the Finnish master Ilmari Tapiovaara (1914 -1999) throughout his career. Already as a student, Tapiovaara focused on improving everyday life for larger parts of the population through furniture based on serial production. He took the aesthetic and ideological aspects of modernism as a starting point for his profession.
At the end of the 1950s, Ilmari Tapiovaara’s designs shifted from the organic, curved forms found in nature to modular systems inspired by, for instance, molecular structures. The Kiki Collection, designed in 1960 for both public and private use, is based on a metal tube with an oval cross section. This was the first time that Tapiovaara built a consistent system of matching parts, including a multi-purpose chair, a stool, a bench, a small side table, a lounge chair and a sofa. The modular, right-angled designs make it easy to combine the various pieces with each other.
The manufacturer of the oval metal tubes had allegedly approached Tapiovaara with the request to design a product that could make use of his considerable overstock of the material. And Tapiovaara succeeded: thanks to its simple and compact, yet refined proportions, the Kiki chair became a favourite of Modernist architects in Finland during the 1960s, and was awarded with the gold medal at the Milan Triennale in 1960. Today, the Kiki Collection comprises sofas, benches, a lounge chair and side tables. The collection is available in a wide range of fabrics and leathers, demonstrating the visual generosity and versatility of the products.
Side Table – 60 x 60 cm
Side Table – 100 x 60 cm
Side Table – 140 x 60 cm
lmari Tapiovaara (1914-1999) is an important step in the development of Scandinavian design during the 20th century. After working with Alvar Aalto in London and Le Corbusier in Paris, he had Eero Aarnio and Yjrö Kukkapuro as assistants. One of his main focuses was the search of the optimal multi-purpose chair, like the Domus chair (or Finn) he drew for the student residence Domus Academica in Helsinki, which was used as office, conference and meals chair, while being stackable. From 1951 to 1960, Ilmari Tapiovaara received no less than 6 gold medals at the Triennale in Milan, more than any other designer.
His furniture is now produced by Artek, which gives it an new international visibility.