A chair is not just a seat, Domus Chair

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

1. The Stories Behind The Domus Collection 

The Domus collection created by Finnish designer Ilmari Tapiovaara in 1946 as part of a series of furniture for students at the Domus Acadamica student housing in Helsinki, Finland. Ilmari Tapiovaara and his wife Annikki Tapiovaara was asked to design a reading chair in students’ rooms that 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.
The novel production method of the Domus Chair introduced a whole new level of comfort, and quickly spread across the country to schools, cafeterias, auditoriums and people’s homes. Today, the Domus Chair, known as “The Finn Chair” achieved great success internationally, and become an international bestseller over 70 years. Tapiovaara’s design was prized by New York’s MoMA, he received the Good Design award in Chicago (1950) and the prestigious Gold Medal at the Milan Triennale (1951).

2. The Design of The Domus Chair

A stackable, comfortable, elegant and timeless design pieces.

Due to the material available in post-war Finland, Tapiovaara worked with a combination of solid wood and form-pressed plywood. Alvar Aalto had already molded plywood sheets two-dimensionally 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. Ilmari Tapiovaara developed this stackable chair with a three-dimensionally molded plywood seat that is both ergonomic and highly comfortable. Sharing a distinctive aesthetic and characteristic short arms that provide a surprising degree of support, while simultaneously allowing the chair to be pulled close to a table. Perfect for studying at a desk and dining while offering the necessary support and comfort.

3. How the designer sees it in the design world?

"Embracing the principle that functionalism goes hand in hand with social equality."

Tapiovaara was a great admirer of Alvar Aalto’s work, and he wanted to create products based on the same ideological premises. Embracing the principle that functionalism goes hand in hand with social equality, Tapiovaara felt that architecture was the starting point of his design work. As Jukka Savolainen, director of the Helsinki Design Museum explained "Tapiovaara wanted a good design for everyone with good quality pieces at an affordable price" Nowadays, the Domus Chair is manufactured by Artek, the chair has become a beloved classic of Finnish design. The collection has been part of the Artek collection since 2010. They are available in a variety of woods and finishes, with or without upholstering.

In 2006, Artek began re-discovered these classic pieces for sale, beginning a second cycle in their lives which not only showcases the longevity of furniture also promotes the idea that what we buy should be carefully chosen, cherished rather than disposed.  Also partnered with the Japan-based fashion company Minä Perhonen designing a upholstery fabric version for the chair


Ilmari Tapiovaara (1914-1999) was one of the greatest interior architects and designers of his era. With the mind of an explorer and the soul of a craftsman, always looking for new solutions to improve everyday objects, using natural materials, and developed simple, functional furniture rooted in Finnish traditions, yet standing out thanks to its elaborate technical detail. Tapiovaara created dozens of iconic objects loved by the public; it is often said that he captured the essence of Finnish identity.


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