Designer: Paavo Tynell

Visionary lighting designer and master metal craftsman Paavo Tynell is celebrated as "the man who illuminated Finland," bringing artful artificial lighting to modern environments – including all of Alvar Aalto's major projects.
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Paavo Tynell teaching metalworking to students at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in the 1920s. Image from Aalto University Library.

Paavo Tynell at a Glance

Began his training as a blacksmith later moving to jewelry design.

In 1918, founded the company Taito Oy Ab in Finland and hired emerging designers like Kaj Franck and Alvar Aalto.

His designs are famously delicate and inspired by nature.

He was commissioned to create lighting designs for the United Nations Secretary General’s Office in the United Nations building.

Office of the United Nation's Secretary General, UN Building, New York, c. 1951.

"The man who illuminated Finland."

Auction Results Paavo Tynell

Paavo Tynell, age 70, featured in Times Magazine, 1960

Paavo Tynell 1890–1973

Finnish designer Paavo Tynell first encountered metalwork as a teenager when apprenticing to become a blacksmith. Possessing a natural talent for manipulating metals, Tynell began working for Koru Oy, the famed Finnish metalsmith company. Perfecting the techniques of metal finishes, he was awarded the title of master craftsman in 1913. Moving from metalwork to jewelry, Tynell proved skillful in making delicate pieces; he designed and crafted the wedding rings of his friends and fellow designers, Alvar and Aino Mandelin Aalto.

Noticing a need for designed metalwork in Finland, Tynell founded his own company Taito Oy Ab in 1918. At first the company focused on interior and exterior metalwork, but later moved on to creating creative lamp designs in the 1930s. Tynell was responsible for a majority of the company's designs but Taito Oy also featured the work of emerging designers like Kaj Franck and Alvar Aalto. Working with Aalto and his company Artek, Tynell designed the lighting for many buildings and interiors by Aalto, including the Paimio Sanatorium, the Savoy Restaurant, and the Viipuri Library.

Tynell’s designs are marked by a delicacy and softness that reveals his background in fine jewelry. His most famous forms in lighting echo the structures of nature; he adroitly created colorful lighting designs with details like leafs, twining vines, and swirling snowflakes. In 1947, Tynell worked with the Finland House, a design atelier in New York that showcased the work of Finnish designers and craftspeople. Tynell’s work was a hit in New York, he began creating lighting designs for the American companies Lightcraft and Lightolier and in 1955 he designed the lighting for the United Nations Secretary General’s Office in the United Nations building. Tynell passed away in 1973, in Helsinki, Finland.

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