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Pirkka Stool

This is a stool. It was designed by Ilmari Tapiovaara and manufactured by Laukaan Puu Ltd.. It is dated ca. 1955 and we acquired it in 2008. Its medium is lacquered beech, pine. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.

The low, stable form of this stool exhibits the rational construction that characterizes Ilmari Tapiovaara’s work. The stool is made up of six components: four legs and a seat in two sections. Other pieces in the Pirkka line include a side chair, bench, and table. This stool shows the original finish, with the seat in a natural, light-toned wood on ebonized wood legs.
Tapiovaara studied industrial and interior design at the Institute of Industrial Arts in Helsinki, graduating in 1937. His designs reflect his conviction that an object’s function and structural conception should be readily visible. He developed an aesthetic that incorporated influences of the architects and manufacturers that he worked for, each a major figure of mid-century modern style: Alvar Aalto, in Artek’s London Office (1935–36); Le Corbusier in Paris (1937); and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in Chicago (1952–53). Tapiovaara was a pioneer in the design of low cost “knock-down” furniture for Finland’s expanding postwar exports of the late 1940s through 1950s. In addition to its affordability, the furniture’s components could be efficiently packed for overseas shipping and could be easily assembled after delivery.
Tapiovaara became particularly well known for functional furniture such as the stackable, bentwood Domus (1947) and Lukki I (1951) chairs that he initially designed for institutional use at the Domus Academy and the Tech Student Village, respectively. He also earned a reputation as a practical businessman. He served as art director for the furniture firm of Askon Tehaat (1937–40), and later for the major furniture manufacturer Asko (1938–41). He founded the cabinetwork factory of Keravan Puuteollisuus (1941–51), and maintained creative and commercial control by serving as both artistic and managing director. In addition to these business activities and teaching, he and his wife, Annikki, set up their own design consultancy firm (1950), which accepted furniture and industrial design commissions from a variety of companies. Though best known for his designs of interiors and furniture, he also designed lighting, glass, cutlery, carpets, textiles (often in collaboration with his wife), and radio and stereo components, through the mid-1970s.
Mid-20th century Scandinavian design exerted a remarkable and enduring influence on modern design. Finnish designers, such as Tapiovaara, contributed significantly to the development of the modern aesthetic. The stool proposed for acquisition would be the first example of Tapiovaara’s work in the museum’s collection. It would serve as a strong example of Finnish mid-century design while enhancing our ability to show a representative group of our Scandinavian modern pieces. At the time of proposed acquisition, the museum’s collection of work by Finnish designers who practiced between the late 1920s and the 1980s includes two examples of a stacking side chair and one bentwood lounge chair (1929–30) by Alvar Aalto, a birch sauna stool (1952) by Antti Nurmesniemi, a fiberglass and plastic Pastilli chair (1968) by Eero Aarnio, and a contemporary plywood and metal armchair (1981) by designers Simo Heikkilä and Yrjö Wiherheimo.

This object was donated by Irwin R. Berman and Linda Berman. It is credited The Linda and Irwin R. Berman Stool Collection.

  • Tale Stool, 1951
  • painted wood, mahogany-veneered molded plywood.
  • The Linda and Irwin R. Berman Stool Collection.
  • 2013-50-7

Its dimensions are

H x W x D: 41 x 43.5 x 37.5 cm (16 1/8 x 17 1/8 x 14 3/4 in.)

It has the following markings

Impressed on underside of seat: "LP" in surround, "LAUKAAN PUU, MADE IN FINLAND"; "TAPIOVAARA DESIGN", above two asterisks.

Cite this object as

Pirkka Stool; Designed by Ilmari Tapiovaara (Finnish, 1914 - 1999); Finland; lacquered beech, pine; H x W x D: 41 x 43.5 x 37.5 cm (16 1/8 x 17 1/8 x 14 3/4 in.); The Linda and Irwin R. Berman Stool Collection; 2008-32-1

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Pirkka Stool |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=17 August 2022 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>