The Snowflake Chandelier by Paavo Tynell

The 'Snowflake' Chandelier model 9041 designed by Paavo Tynell for Taito OY, Finland, 1954 - 1956.

The post-war sense of relief, freedom and hope greatly influenced Tynell’s work. Drawing inspiration from nature and the traditions of his beloved homeland, Finland, he quickly moved away from strict functionalism to create new pieces reflecting the era’s rapid social changes. Floral, natural decorative elements and shapes, perforated metal techniques and the use of new and unconventional materials made Tynell’s lights not only exquisite interior objects, but artworks symbolic of their time.

Tynell’s Snowflake chandeliers are evocative of the decorative ornaments that were customary to hang at home during colder, darker Finnish winters. Twinkling warm light would imitate sparkling snowfall, creating a sense of winter magic. This piece is exceptional because of the remarkable number of snowflakes. According to Harry Kivilina, curator at Design Museum Finland, Modernity’s lamp is a “special order, where they wanted 60 snowflakes. Unfortunately Tynell’s archive does not have sketches of all orders”. The piece belongs to Tynell’s earlier examples, which would often include perforated bases allowing for the light to diffuse not only around the room but also downwards. “Paavo Tynell created a rather personal style that did not imitate anyone else. His style was very decorative and super romantic which was in line with the movement of the time in the Nordic countries. This can be seen with all the flowers and leaves he used in his designs in many different lamps, and not least in the Snowflake. This became his trademark”, says Pekka Korvenmaa.

The opening of the Finland House gallery and restaurant, specialising in Finnish interiors, in New York in 1948 epitomised a decade of success of Finnish and Scandinavian design. It was a testament to just how fashionable Finnish style had become in America. Paavo Tynell acquired a celebrity-like status similar to the design stars of today, such as Ron Arad. Perfectly crafted in Finland at his own production company, Taito Oy, Tynell’s Snowflake chandeliers were exported to the US gallery, playing a pivotal role in his international success. Back home in Finland, the Helsinki City Hall secured an early order for its grand restaurant, Kaupunginkellari. These chandeliers became incredibly rare and very expensive, with private commissions almost impossible to get hold of.