Sometimes in our research we encounter some very special pieces.
We can’t help by highlight this rare three-seater sofa, designed by Finnish design master Ilmari Tapiovaara, to be showcased for the 1957 exhibition “Seconda Mostra Selettiva e Concorso Internazionale del Mobile’” in Cantù, a small Italian city in the Brianza craftman district north of Milano. The room designed by Tapiovaara, where the sofa was included, won the gold medal for “Living Room Design”. The sofa (and the matching armchairs, coffee tables and sideboards) were then produced by Esposizione La Permanente Mobili, but the production was short and ceased in the 1960s. It was manufactured by the skilled craftman Paolo Arnaboldi, that successfully succeeded in the challenge of bringing to life the complex Tapiovaara’s design. The result was a unique furniture series that combined Finnish and Italian design.
As many objects created by the Finnish designer, this sofa combines fully organic materials such as solid wood and leather and a rational, minimalistic appearance, that results in a piece that is both warm and architectural. The brass details serve as an elegant punctuation.
The rare ottoman serves as a perfect completion to the sofa.
This very specimen is likley a working prototype, a first version of the piece later manufactured in a small series: you can see the craftman was experimenting. The backrest and seat are different from the later produced one: this one has a whole piece of leather for the seat and stripes for the backrest, while later this piece was manufactured with the opposite combination (whole backrest and striped seat).
Click here to see all the details of this piece.
Ilmari Tapiovaara (1914-1999) was born in Hämeenlinna (Finland). He was in close contact with nature since his early childhood, as his family was involved in forestry-related occupations; his father was a forest ranger and his grandfather a cabinetmaker. It’s also worth to mention that shared a home with his 12 siblings. It’s easy to see why nature was often quoted as his main influence for by the designer itself.
After studying in the Helsinki School of Applied Arts, he completed internships at Alvar Aalto’s and Le Corbusier’s studios.graduating, Ilmari went on to complete an internship at Le Corbusier s studio.
During the 1940s he was appointed head of the National Planning Department, where he was responsible for designing buildings and furniture.
After the war, he devoted to industrial design with a democratic approach, combining natural materials and affordable manufacturing, and opened a design studio in 1950 together with his wife Annikki.
His designs were internationally acknowledged, as he won a Good Design Award in Chicago in 1950 and six gold medals between 1951 and 1960. He also won the Finnish state prize for design.
Among his most known pieces, the “Domus” chair and the “Lukki I” stackable chair.