Yrjö Kukkapuro (photographer Lucien den Arend)

Yrjö Kukkapuro, one of the central figures of Finnish functionalism, started working as a designer in the 1950s. His furniture has represented Finland in major international exhibitions since Milan 1960 Triennial and has been selected to the most significant foreign museum design collections. Many of Kukkapuro’s early designs are still in production. The most famous of them is the Carousel-chair. When it was launched in 1965, it represented completely new way of thinking and even now it is frequently discussed in the media.

The corner stone of Kukkapuro’s designs is ergonomics, the systematic mapping of physiological requirements. The functionality and reliability of the furniture carries out the designer's ecological efforts and minimalistic aesthetic values and offers their user beautiful and durable comfort.

Yrjö Kukkapuro has taught at the Ateneum in 1963 -1969, Helsinki University of Technology, Department of Architecture 1969 - 1974, and the University of Art and Design 1974 - 1980. He was the rector of the University of Art and Design 1978 -1980. Kukkapuro was appointed Honorary Professor of Arts for 1988 -1993 by the Arts Council of Finland. He has served as a visiting teacher in Scotland and England, as well as a lecturer throughout the world. In China, he has been appointed honorary professor at two universities.

Studio - Yrjö Kukkapuro.
Yrjö and Irmeli Kukkapuro's studio (photographer Veikko Kähkönen)

Kukkapuro is a recipient of many prizes and awards including the Finnish State Design Prize of 1970, The Pro Finlandia medal in 1983 and Design Forum Finland’s Kaj Franck Prize in 1995

Ergonomics, Ecology and Aesthetics Encounters Seminar 26.04.2007

In his seminar speech Yrjö Kukkapuro stated that the Finnish functionalism has its roots in the peasant culture and derives its energy from the art movements of the 1960´s. The tendency towards purity and simplicity of shape originates in log houses, wooden cradles and spoons. Pop Art brought unlimited faith in development and a joy of creation to arts and design. Although the unbridled creative urge of “the space age” has since been dimmed by oil crises and climate change, good ideas can still be found.

Kukkapuro believes in the power of details: "God dwells in the details. In them possibilities are limitless. They can be used to create your own personal stamp on the design." At the same time, he emphasizes the importance of technical knowledge: “One has to be able to manage structures and construction and to know how materials behave. Workshops, wholesalers and factories are almost more important than universities to a designer. True knowledge can be found there."

Prototype for the Karuselli chair.
Yrjö Kukkapuro and the prototype for his karuselli chair in 1964-1965

Katariina Lipsanen


Marjut Pitkänen, Kari Huhtamon Taidesäätiö ja Sari Väyrynen, Lapin Yliopisto. Bulletin on the Encounters-seminar.
Merja Vehmas: Top artists trust the idea of the world class university. Lapin Kansa 27.4.2007.

Encounters page
Kari Piippo
Lucien den Arend
Jorma Hautala
Yrjö Kukkapuro
Antero Toikka