Domus Chairs design Ilmari Tapiovaara 1946 – Artek

Domus Chairs – Artek

Domus Chair & Domus Lounge Chair
Design Ilmari Tapiovaara, 1946

“A chair is not just a seat – it is the key to the whole interior.”
Ilmari Tapiovaara (1914–1999)

Celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2016, the award-winning Domus Chair was designed in 1946 by Finnish designer and interior architect Ilmari Tapiovaara for the student housing complex Domus Academica in Helsinki. Of the many items Tapiovaara and his wife Annikki designed for the new project, the multi-purpose Domus Chair was the central piece. The chair became a great international success and the guiding light for all of Tapiovaara’s subsequent work. Today Domus is still found in public spaces such as restaurants, schools and auditoriums, but is also popular in home environments.

Primarily intended as a reading chair in students’ rooms, the Domus Chair needed to be comfortable and support good posture for many hours of studying. At the same time, it was meant for general use in the auditoriums, the canteen and the negotiation rooms of Domus Academica. Due to the material availability in post-war Finland, Tapiovaara worked with a combination of solid wood and form-pressed plywood. Alvar Aalto had already moulded plywood sheets twodimensionally in the early 1930s, but with the Domus Chair’s three-dimensionally curved seats, Tapiovaara created a chair that conformed to the body in a new and highly comfortable way. The characteristic short armrests of the Domus Chair offer a surprising degree of support, while simultaneously allowing the chair to be pulled close to a table. The chair was initially delivered from the factory in pieces for the retailer or the end customer to assemble. This explains the visible screws in Tapiovaara’s original design.

The lightweight, stackable and multi-purpose Domus quickly became a popular choice for new buildings in the growing public sector in Finland. Its international recognition eventually made Domus the first successful post-war design export from Finland. Sold in the UK under the name of “Stax” and in the United States as the “Finnchair”, its popularity led to numerous awards, such as the American Good Design Award in Chicago, which Tapiovaara received in 1950, and the golden medal at Milan Triennale in 1951.

As part of the same family, the Domus Lounge Chair was designed for the public spaces of Domus Academica. The chair’s generous proportions meant that it was technically not possible to produce the seat and back element in one piece. In its current production by Artek, the Domus Lounge Chair is now made out of one moulded plywood element, as was originally intended by Tapiovaara.

The Domus Chair and Lounge Chair, along with other products by Ilmari Tapiovaara, have been part of the Artek collection since 2010. They are available in a variety of woods and finishes, with or without upholstering. At the Stockholm Furniture Fair 2016, Artek introduces Domus in a range of new leather upholstery colours.