Tapiovaara wanted to design inexpensive furniture for broader audience. He made use of materials that were readily available in Finland in the 1940s, such as solid birch. Later in the 1950s, he began to develop multipurpose chairs made of steel tubing and plywood.
Ilmari Tapiovaara designed Kiki in 1960. It was originally conceived as a chair whose stackability allowed it to be used to seat large groups, such as in auditoriums. In the Kiki series Tapiovaara employed a more clean cut design idiom instead of the more organic style he had favoured previously. Instead of wood, he chose oval steel tubing as the structural and unifying element of the whole Kiki collection.
Kiki was a success, establishing the current direction for furniture design at this time. Kiki’s timeless and elegant design idiom has made it one of the most popular pieces of public furniture in Finland.
- Frame, lacquered black steel
- Seat and back, polyurethane foam and polyester wadding
- Max Height: 68 cm / 26.75 Inch
- Height to Seat: 39 cm / 15.5 Inch
- Width: 60 cm / 23.5 Inch
- Depth: 75 cm / 29.5 Inch
Artek was founded in 1935 by Alvar and Aino Aalto, Maire Gullichsen and Nils-Gustav Hahl. The business idea of the company was “to sell furniture and to promote a modern culture of habitation by exhibitions and other educational means.” That was the beginning of Artek.
The Artek collection comprises design furniture and lighting fixtures by the Nordic masters Alvar Aalto, Ilmari Tapiovaara, Tapio Wirkkala and Eero Aarnio. The latest addition to the portfolio consists of products by Yrjö Kukkapuro. The masterpiece of Kukkapuro, the Karuselli chair, will be
re-launched on the market in the beginning of the year 2014. In addition to classics, Artek is also launching new generation design products under the Artek Studio brand. Alvar Aalto’s furniture represents an interpretation of Scandinavian modernism articulated primarily in Finnish birch wood. Wood and functionality are both hallmarks of the Artek collection. The Artek portfolio represents the most comprehensive collection of wooden design furniture in the world.
Artek has international sales offices in New York, Berlin, Stockholm and Tokyo. The domestic market accounts for 60% of the company’s turnover, with Artek holding a solid position in the Finnish consumer and contract market. Vitra’s design classics have for a number of years been an important part of Artek’s collection for the Finnish market. Artek operates four stores in Finland, as well as a wide retail network.
Artek Kiki Lounge Chair Designed by:
- Ilmari Tapiovaara , 1960
Finland, 1914 - 1999
Ilmari Tapiovaara graduated in 1937 as interior architect from the department of furniture design of the Central School of Applied Arts in Helsinki. He was one of the greatest interior architects and designers of his era. With the mind of anexplorer and a soul of a craftsman, Tapiovaara was always seeking for new solutions to improve everyday objects. During his long career Tapiovaara created dozens of iconic objects loved by the public.
Ilmari Tapiovaara was a great admirer of Alvar Aalto’s work, and he wanted to create products based on the same ideological premises. Tapiovaara embraced the principle of social equality of functionalism, and felt that architecture was the starting point of his design work. In addition to dozens of chairs and other furniture, mostly intended for public spaces, Tapiovaara also designed interiors for many banks, offices, hotels and showrooms starting in the 1940s.
Ilmari Tapiovaara was awarded a total of six gold medals at the Milan Triennials in 1951, 1954, 1957, 1960 and 1964. He was awarded the Good Design Award in Chicago in 1951, the Pro Finlandia medal in 1959, the Finnish State Design Prize in 1971 and the Furniture Prize of the SIO Interior Architects’ Association of Finland in 1990.