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Paavo Tynell (1890-1973)

Paavo Tynell, who was born in Helsinki, Finland in 1890, started his career as a tin and blacksmith at the company Kory Oy. Simultaneously he studied at the Helsinki University of Industrial Arts, to which he graduated as a ‘master craftsman’ in 1913.
In 1918, Tynell co-founded the metalwork and lighting company Oy Taito Ab. At first the company focused mostly on interior and exterior metalwork, such as statues and railings. Later, during the 1930s, Taito also began producing lamps for the lighting sector. Both Alvar Aalto and Kaj Franck would design works for the company. A turning point for Taito Ab however was when Tynell, who himself focused solely on the designing of lighting, became involved with Finland House, the New York design gallery and restaurant in 1947. Here his works were showcased permanently and also used in the lighting of the restaurant. Due to Tynell’s splendid and quite particular style, which was uncommon in North America, the cooperation gained him a lot of visibility in the American press; most notably in Life Magazine, Interiors Magazine and The New York Times and paved the way for Tynell to create lamps for important spaces like the UN Secretary General’s office in New York and the Parliament House in Helsinki.

Known for their subtle, delicate aesthetic, Tynell’s designs often utilised perforated metal and brass and referenced nature through stylized leaves, vines, and snowflakes. And, due to his knowledge and skill in metalwork Tynell was able to create indirect lighting to achieve a softer and more atmospheric light, which made his work especially popular in restaurants and other locations where atmosphere was preferred over brightness.

From the 1930s throughout the 1950s, Tynell was considered Finland’s most successful lighting designer and he contributed to i.a. the Sokos Hotel and its penthouse lounge Café Vakuuna, the Lasipalatsi building in Helsinki and the Helsinki Central Railway Station. During the 1950s, Tynell collaborated with the architect and interior designer Aarne Ervi, who promoted Tynell’s lighting designs in many of his projects, including the Tapiola Housing Project in Espoo, Finland, several private residences, and a power plant located in northern Finland.

Tynell worked as the CEO and chief designer of Oy Taito Ab until his retirement in 1953 when the company was sold to Idman Oy. Tynell however continued to design for Idman until the mid-1960s, while also working as a freelance designer for many other companies in Finland and abroad like Litecraft ja Lightolier.

After a hugely successful career Paavo Tynell passed away in his hometown of Helsinki in 1973, at age 83.  ~HG