View 1 of Lot 413. A Rare "Snowflake" Ceiling Light, Model No. 10109.
View 1 of Lot 413. A Rare "Snowflake" Ceiling Light, Model No. 10109.
413

Paavo Tynell

A Rare "Snowflake" Ceiling Light, Model No. 10109

Estimate:

40,000 - 60,000 USD

Property of a Distinguished Private Collector

Paavo Tynell

Paavo Tynell

A Rare "Snowflake" Ceiling Light, Model No. 10109

A Rare "Snowflake" Ceiling Light, Model No. 10109

Estimate:

40,000 - 60,000 USD

Lot sold:

94,500

USD

Property of a Distinguished Private Collector

Paavo Tynell

A Rare "Snowflake" Ceiling Light, Model No. 10109


circa 1950s

produced by Taito Oy, Helsinki, Finland

brass, perforated brass, brass mesh

impressed Made in Finland TT TAITO SM 271

16 1/2 in. (41.9 cm) drop

44 1/2 in. (113 cm) maximum diameter

Private Collection, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Finland House Lighting: Harmony in Lighting for Harmony in Living, Original Designs by Paavo Tynell, sales catalogue, New York, 1955, p. 15
Idman, sales catalogue, no. 142, 1958, p. 44
"High Lights of a Lighting Genius," LIFE Magazine, December 12, 1960, p. 57 (for a related model)
Charlotte and Peter Fiell, Scandinavian Design, Cologne, 2002, p. 627 (for a related model)
Charlotte and Peter Fiell, eds., 1000 Lights 1879 to 1959, Vol. 1, Cologne, 2005, p. 397 (for a related model)
Finnish designer Paavo Tynell (1890-1973) began his career as a blacksmith, studying to become a master craftsman in 1913 at the University of Art and Design Helsinki. In 1918 he founded his own Helsinki-based manufacturing company Taito Oy, where he aspired to produce high quality metalwork and eventually specialized in lighting design that was both playful and functional. During his tenure as CEO until 1954, Tynell collaborated with fellow Finnish designers and architects including Alvar Aalto, who featured Taito Oy lighting fixtures in his noteworthy projects such as the Paimio Sanatorium and Viipuri Library. This proved to be mutually beneficial for the visibility of their work and earned Tynell the reputation of “the man who illuminated Finland.”

Tynell created the first iteration of his beloved “Snowflake” ceiling lights in 1946. For the initial form, the designer drew inspiration from the traditions of his native country. Around Yuletide, it is common to hang himmeli, decorative and geometric mobiles made of straw that portend productive crop growth in the new year. Tynell adapted this concept with his metalsmithing experience, replacing straw with brass to create uniquely whimsical and wintery lighting. The present lot is an example of model 10109, a rare configuration of 24 snowflakes designed circa 1950. Tynell’s design cleverly mixes techniques of brass cutting to articulate each part. The base of the bowl is delicately perforated in a pattern of concentric circles and radiating petals, evoking the ordered beauty of a snow crystal. The sides of the bowl have also been perforated with tiny circles and its edges shaped into a wave, suggesting the motion of snow drifting in the wind. Tendril-like brass cords emerge from the center of the bowl, from which hexagonal snowflakes of thin brass mesh hang lightly. When lit, the combination of these textures with the warm color of brass casts a soft, atmospheric glow akin to a candle, but with the reliability and modernity of electricity. The sculptural chandelier and its resulting shadows create a delightful snowfall effect, adding charm to any room.

The “Snowflake” ceiling light achieved great success not only in Finland, but also abroad. Capitalizing on a growing international interest in Scandinavian modern design, Tynell began export of his designs for the American market. In 1948, he developed a relationship with Finland House, a showroom and restaurant located at 41 East 50th Street in New York City. Finland House exhibited and retailed Tynell’s designs in their midtown showroom and expanded his reach through dedicated catalogues marketing his work. Demonstrating the significance and popularity of this model, Finland House included it in a sales catalogue of original designs they advertised as “the culmination of Paavo Tynell’s lifelong effort to blend the harmony of lighting with the harmony of living.”