Martela history

Martela, then called Tehokaluste Oy, was established in 1945. Operations did not begin with production first, as with many competitors. Instead, the company focused on designing products and marketing them to customers. The founders of the company with business degrees were Matti S. Martela, Henrik Virkkunen, Unto Eskola and Jonne Jahnukainen, plus Svante Nurmiranta and interior architect Wladimir Rumjantsew.
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Western winds were blowing in the furniture industry. Tehokaluste’s offices were located in the 1950s in the centre of Helsinki on Hallituskatu (today Yliopistokatu) street.

Western winds were blowing in the furniture industry. Tehokaluste’s offices were located in the 1950s in the centre of Helsinki on Hallituskatu (today Yliopistokatu) street.

Voitto Haapalainen; Leather abd Steel 'Prisma' Lounge Chair for Tehokaluste Oy, c1970.

Voitto Haapalainen; Leather abd Steel 'Prisma' Lounge Chair for Tehokaluste Oy, c1970.

VOITTO HAAPALAINEN  Prisma chair  Tehokaluste Oy Finland , c. 1970 leather, chrome-plated steel 34.25 w x 35 d x 41 h inches Signed with app...

VOITTO HAAPALAINEN Prisma chair Tehokaluste Oy Finland , c. 1970 leather, chrome-plated steel 34.25 w x 35 d x 41 h inches Signed with app...

Kilta chair design Olli Mannermaa (1955) - on the 1960s at the Milan Design Week

Kilta chair design Olli Mannermaa (1955) - on the 1960s at the Milan Design Week

Kilta chair design Olli Mannermaa (1955) - on the 1960s at the Milan Design Week

Kilta chair design Olli Mannermaa (1955) - on the 1960s at the Milan Design Week

Close to sculpture. Voitto Haapalainen’s Prisma recliner introduced a collection with strong lines and edges to compete with all the other series with rounded and soft lines. In its own way, Prisma provided a kind of contrast to Yrjö Kukkapuro’s Carousel chair. For Tehokaluste, Prisma was an impressive series that was photographed a lot, and Haapalainen had to make several adaptions of the series to meet the demands of individual customers. (In the 1970s)

Close to sculpture. Voitto Haapalainen’s Prisma recliner introduced a collection with strong lines and edges to compete with all the other series with rounded and soft lines. In its own way, Prisma provided a kind of contrast to Yrjö Kukkapuro’s Carousel chair. For Tehokaluste, Prisma was an impressive series that was photographed a lot, and Haapalainen had to make several adaptions of the series to meet the demands of individual customers. (In the 1970s)

The design of Olli Mannermaa’s Tukituoli supportive chair was emphasised in the 1955 brochure. The stylish drawings were signed by Alemka.

The design of Olli Mannermaa’s Tukituoli supportive chair was emphasised in the 1955 brochure. The stylish drawings were signed by Alemka.

Tehokaluste (Martela) presented its first open office model at the Finnish Design Center back in 1966. This was still based on standard furniture used in “cubicle offices”, with sound-absorbing partitions and flower arrangements. The idea of the open office required some getting used to at first; jokes were made about them, and it was feared that office workers would lose their privacy.

Tehokaluste (Martela) presented its first open office model at the Finnish Design Center back in 1966. This was still based on standard furniture used in “cubicle offices”, with sound-absorbing partitions and flower arrangements. The idea of the open office required some getting used to at first; jokes were made about them, and it was feared that office workers would lose their privacy.

Young secretaries were employed to market Tehka chairs, the same ones they used at work. Increasing attention was paid to existing hierarchies within the workplace when designing offices. Finland became a pioneer in the emancipation of women. Modern offices were open and comfortable environments in which more relaxed attire was gradually accepted. Company directors still kept to themselves in their own offices, however, protected by traffic lights on the door. (In the 1960s)

Young secretaries were employed to market Tehka chairs, the same ones they used at work. Increasing attention was paid to existing hierarchies within the workplace when designing offices. Finland became a pioneer in the emancipation of women. Modern offices were open and comfortable environments in which more relaxed attire was gradually accepted. Company directors still kept to themselves in their own offices, however, protected by traffic lights on the door. (In the 1960s)

Martela collection from the late 1940s (at the time the company name was Tehokaluste).

Martela collection from the late 1940s (at the time the company name was Tehokaluste).


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Liisa Nironen, who later married to become Liisa Martela, designed the company’s brochures in the 1940s. The selection in “Brochure no. 1” consisted of writing tables and chairs, plus smoking and telephone tables. In order to save costs, the brochure was illustrated with black and white drawings. Brochure no. 3 is already noticeably thicker and more colourful.

Liisa Nironen, who later married to become Liisa Martela, designed the company’s brochures in the 1940s. The selection in “Brochure no. 1” consisted of writing tables and chairs, plus smoking and telephone tables. In order to save costs, the brochure was illustrated with black and white drawings. Brochure no. 3 is already noticeably thicker and more colourful.

The design of Olli Mannermaa’s Tukituoli supportive chair was emphasised in the 1955 brochure. The stylish drawings were signed by Alemka.

The design of Olli Mannermaa’s Tukituoli supportive chair was emphasised in the 1955 brochure. The stylish drawings were signed by Alemka.

Martela collection from the late 1940s (at the time the company name was Tehokaluste).

Martela collection from the late 1940s (at the time the company name was Tehokaluste).

Olli Mannermaa and Olof Pira work on chairs, 1954 / Selected by www.20emesiecle.be

Olli Mannermaa and Olof Pira work on chairs, 1954 / Selected by www.20emesiecle.be

Close to sculpture. Voitto Haapalainen’s Prisma recliner introduced a collection with strong lines and edges to compete with all the other series with rounded and soft lines. In its own way, Prisma provided a kind of contrast to Yrjö Kukkapuro’s Carousel chair. For Tehokaluste, Prisma was an impressive series that was photographed a lot, and Haapalainen had to make several adaptions of the series to meet the demands of individual customers. (In the 1970s)

Close to sculpture. Voitto Haapalainen’s Prisma recliner introduced a collection with strong lines and edges to compete with all the other series with rounded and soft lines. In its own way, Prisma provided a kind of contrast to Yrjö Kukkapuro’s Carousel chair. For Tehokaluste, Prisma was an impressive series that was photographed a lot, and Haapalainen had to make several adaptions of the series to meet the demands of individual customers. (In the 1970s)

Tehokaluste (Martela) presented its first open office model at the Finnish Design Center back in 1966. This was still based on standard furniture used in “cubicle offices”, with sound-absorbing partitions and flower arrangements. The idea of the open office required some getting used to at first; jokes were made about them, and it was feared that office workers would lose their privacy.

Tehokaluste (Martela) presented its first open office model at the Finnish Design Center back in 1966. This was still based on standard furniture used in “cubicle offices”, with sound-absorbing partitions and flower arrangements. The idea of the open office required some getting used to at first; jokes were made about them, and it was feared that office workers would lose their privacy.

The director’s new desk. Tehokaluste’s (Martela) first product was a writing table. There was big demand for this during the rebuilding of Finland, when civil servants were put to work in offices. (In the 1940s)

The director’s new desk. Tehokaluste’s (Martela) first product was a writing table. There was big demand for this during the rebuilding of Finland, when civil servants were put to work in offices. (In the 1940s)

Young secretaries were employed to market Tehka chairs, the same ones they used at work. Increasing attention was paid to existing hierarchies within the workplace when designing offices. Finland became a pioneer in the emancipation of women. Modern offices were open and comfortable environments in which more relaxed attire was gradually accepted. Company directors still kept to themselves in their own offices, however, protected by traffic lights on the door. (In the 1960s)

Young secretaries were employed to market Tehka chairs, the same ones they used at work. Increasing attention was paid to existing hierarchies within the workplace when designing offices. Finland became a pioneer in the emancipation of women. Modern offices were open and comfortable environments in which more relaxed attire was gradually accepted. Company directors still kept to themselves in their own offices, however, protected by traffic lights on the door. (In the 1960s)

In the first half of the 1960s the majority of sales were created in and around Helsinki. Elsewhere in Finland the company had no systematic retail sales network. Sales representatives did not head out into the countryside without good reason. A solution was sought for this shortcoming, first by forming a two-man sales team that was responsible for sales outside of Helsinki. One salesman Pentti Kilpi  took care of the western half of Finland, the other  Kalevi Jaukkari the eastern half.

In the first half of the 1960s the majority of sales were created in and around Helsinki. Elsewhere in Finland the company had no systematic retail sales network. Sales representatives did not head out into the countryside without good reason. A solution was sought for this shortcoming, first by forming a two-man sales team that was responsible for sales outside of Helsinki. One salesman Pentti Kilpi took care of the western half of Finland, the other Kalevi Jaukkari the eastern half.

The Tehka series designed by Olli Mannermaa led to the creation of new work spaces. (In the 1960s)

The Tehka series designed by Olli Mannermaa led to the creation of new work spaces. (In the 1960s)

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