Palainco Seriously light minded

Lisa Johansson-Pape, first class lamp designer by accident

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Purely beautiful and functional, these qualities characterise Lisa Johansson-Pape’s (1907-1989) work as a lighting, furniture and textile designer. She paved the way for Finnish lighting design, and became one of the most significant Finnish lighting designers of the previous century. Lisa Johansson-Pape’s works represented Finland in many international exhibitions since the 1930s.

  • Palainco_Lisa_Johansson_Pape_6_2 Lisa Johansson-Pape.

    Lisa Johansson-Pape’s career as a designer was long and varied. After graduating in 1927 from the Central School of Arts and Crafts, she designed furniture for the Kylmäkoski furniture factory. After that, from 1933 to 1937, she designed models and patterns for rya textiles (a traditional Scandinavian wool rug with a long pile) for the Friends of Finnish Handicraft. Before becoming a lighting designer, she designed furniture and carpets at Stockmann. Like her later work, her furniture designs were always minimalistic and highly functional.

  • Palainco_Lisa_Johansson_Pape_2 Wooden stool by Stockmann (source: Gaudium).

    Johansson-Pape’s career in light fixtures began in 1942, when she designed a number of contemporary light fixtures for a lighting factory called Orno, which was owned by Stockmann, a Finnish retail company established in 1862. Johanssen-Pape, on her move into lighting: “It was quite by accident that I became a light designer. By education, I’m a furniture designer, but I had to make lamps during the war. The light fixtures began to interest me to such an extent that I set aside furniture design.”

    She was later to become artistic director of Orno and she was one of the founders of the Finnish Association for Lighting Technology. Her wish was to provide every Finnish household with good light marked by functionality and practicality.

  • Palainco_Lisa_Johansson_Pape_334 Orno - Model 61-334 - 1950s (source: Bloomberry).
    Palainco_Lisa_Johansson_Pape_3 Orno - acrylic and brass - 1950s (source: Bukowskis).
  • Her designs were directed by the idea that the lighting function was more important than the aesthetic side. The form had to serve the technological function, or in her own words: “A lamp is not the actual purpose, but it is more like an instrument – it must fulfill its purpose as a provider of light, but at the same time it must also satisfy the aesthetic demands. A good light fixture must be simple and its structure and function must be both neat and correct.”

  • Johansson-Pape’s earliest designs were remarkable for their graceful yet simple forms and often featured pierced metal elements, designed to cast perfect arcs of light. The materials used in her light fixtures included enameled metal and acrylic, which was a new material at the time. In the 1950s she began to collaborate with the glass blowers at the famous Iittala glass factory. A new collection of glass lamp designs was born through these experiments.

    Lisa Johansson-Pape was probably the most prolific Finnish lamp designer ever. Several of her lighting fixtures have reached the status of classics.

  • Palainco_Lisa_Johansson_Pape_2 Gold-winning Sipuli, or in English Onion, pendant. The form clearly resembles the vegetable for which it was named.
    Palainco_Lisa_Johansson_Pape_4 Poster Milan Triennale 1954.
  • Palainco_Lisa_Johansson_Pape Lisa Johansson-Pape at work.




    Johansson-Pape designed light fixtures for many public spaces, such as hospitals, schools and churches. You might still find her works in the Lastenlinna Children’s Hospital in Helsinki (1948), the Swedish-speaking School of Economics in Helsinki (1952) or, if you are willing to travel a bit longer, in the Rheumatism Sanatorium in Heinola (1950) or the Eckerö Church (early 1950s) on the Åland Islands. She also created light fixtures for several ferries and ships (Ilmatar, Aallotar, Finnpartner, Finnhansa, the icebreaker Karhu). But those will probably be more difficult to visit.

  • Lisa Johansson-Pape’s works represented Finland in many international exhibitions and she won numerous awards. At the New York World’s Fair of 1939, she carried out part of the interior design of the Finland department. At the Milan Triennale of 1951, lamps and light fixtures she designed were awarded a silver medal. In 1954, a hanging lamp made of opal glass and produced by littala won a gold medal in design. In 1957 Johansson-Pape was awarded the Pro Finlandia prize.

    Johansson-Pape was not only a productive designer; she was at the same time the artistic director of the Friends of Finnish Handicraft (1951 – 1985). She was also one of the founders of Finland’s Illuminating Engineering Society. Johansson-Pape wrote on the subject of lighting, she lectured for many years at the School of Industrial Art and had speaking engagements as far as Japan. She was also an exhibition architect and organised countless exhibitions of rya textiles and lighting.

  • Palainco_Lisa_Johansson_Pape_338 Orno - model 61-338 - 1960s (source: Bloomberry).
    Palainco_Lisa_Johansson_Pape--5 Orno - table lamp with base covered in leather - 1950s (source: Bukowskis).
  • A number of Johansson-Pape’s lighting designs are still produced by Innolux. If you are looking for a vintage one, please check our website or let us know!


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    • Literature: Wikipedia,, 1001 Lights, &

    Unless otherwise stated, all material is sourced and/or generated internally. All rights reserved.

    • Text: Palainco, Koos Logger & Ingrid Stadler.
    • Image sources: Gaudium (Amsterdam, The Netherlands), Bloomberry (Meerssen, The Netherlands), Modernity (Stockholm, Sweden) & Bukowskis (Finland and Sweden) & the Palainco Archive.

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