Yrjö Kukkapuro – a great influencer of Finnish design

Yrjö Kukkapuro – suomalaisen muotoilun suuri vaikuttaja

Finnish design history is full of legendary names. One of the biggest influences is undoubtedly Yrjö Kukkapuro, who celebrated his 90th birthday on April 6, 2023.

Kukkapuro is especially known for its furniture, which has combined practicality and beauty for decades. Yrjö Kukkapuro's minimalist, yet playful design style has delighted both in Finland and abroad for many decades. Kukkapuro's style has greatly influenced Finnish design and the furniture industry. Kukkapuro's furniture is especially united by ergonomic design. Among other things, the carousel chair, which is designed precisely to promote the ergonomic position of the sitter, has been the favorite chair of Tapio Wirkkala and Oiva Toika.

Main photo: Cata Portin

Carousel chair

Karuselli - chair, designed in 1965

Yrjö Kukkapuro was born in Helsinki on April 6, 1933. He studied at the University of Arts in Helsinki in the early 1950s and graduated as an interior architect in 1958. Kukkapuro started working as a furniture designer right after graduation and founded his own company as early as 1959.

Kukkapuro studied at the University of Art and Design and graduated as an interior architect in 1958. Quickly after graduation, Kukkapuro founded his own furniture factory in Konala, Helsinki. Kukkapuro's first international breakthrough was the Ateljee chair series in 1964. The Ateljee sofa and chair, characteristic of Kukkapuro's style, were selected for the collections of New York's MoMa and have also found their way into President Kekkonen's living room at Tamminiemi's home museum. Perhaps Kukkapuro's best-known example of design work is the Karuselli chair from 1965. Its frame is fiberglass, which was a very trendy and new material in the design year.
With the 1973 oil crisis, Kukkapuro completely stopped using plastic in its furniture. This was the beginning of Kukkapuro's 30-year shaped plywood era.

Kukkapuro has also taught furniture design at the University of Art and Design and worked as a professor and rector of Art and Design in 1978-1981. In addition to this, Kukkapuro has held several positions of trust in Finnish design and art. Kukkapuro has won several international design awards during his career. His contribution to Finnish design is significant.

Kukkapuro has also been involved in founding several organizations and associations in the design industry. He was one of the founding members of the Finnish Design Foundation, and later served as its chairman. In addition, he has been involved in the activities of the Finnish Interior Designers' Association, Ornamo and several other organizations.

The Saturnus chair, designed in 1966

Yrjö Kukkapuro's influence in Finnish design history is significant. The furniture he designed are classics that have received a lot of international attention. Kukkapuro has also been a significant influence in the training and development of the design industry. He has trained several future designers and acted as a mentor to many professionals in the field.

Yrjö Kukkapuro's 90th birthday reminded us of how important his contribution has been to Finnish design and furniture manufacturing. His furniture will continue to inspire and bring joy and beauty to homes for many years to come.

Atelier sofa

Atelier sofa, designed in 1963

Among Fargo's selections, you can find e.g. Ergonomic Plano work chairs designed by Kukkapuro, see here
Plano office chair, 1970s

You can also explore our other Design Collection treasures. Fargo's Design Collection contains significant Finnish and Nordic collectable rarities. They are sold internationally. Contact the Fargo team if you find interesting furniture or other interior items in the collection.

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