Tag Archives: iittala

looking north for summer.

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Instead of sipping some sad, hand-extracted cabbage juice, January should be spent rejoicing about all the good things to come and planning the summer ahead. Thus we look north to Finland: The Tapio Wirkkala Rut Bryk Foundation continues to celebrate the separate works of husband and wife Wirkkala and Bryk as part of their 2015/2016 centenary programme.

Internationally renowned designer and sculptor Wirkkala (1915-1985) may be the more recognisable name than Bryk (1916-1999), but Rut’s artistic work was just as powerful as her husband’s. Having studied Graphic Design, she joined Arabia  in 1942 and stayed with the company for over 50 years. As a highly skilled ceramics artist her early works depicted folkloric motifs. Her patterns would also at times emerge on tableware designed by Wirkkala for Rosenthal. In her later abstract works, she explored, as the V&A London noted, ‘in totally disciplined manner, opposing positive and negative forces and the contrasting effects of light and shade, surface and depth’, resulting in ceramic reliefs of intense beauty and startling impact.From May until September 2016, the Espoo Museum of Modern Art (EMMA), Finland,  will be celebrating Rut Bryk’s life and work with a dedicated exhibition. Owl’s House London’s Finnish correspondent will be sure to visit and report back.

Whilst most of the events celebrating Wirkkala’s centenary in 2015 have passed, in 2016, the STILL / LIFE – Tapio Wirkkala Retrospective will be touring through Lapland. This Northern part of Finland was Wirkkala’s spiritual home and refuge from ‘European abundance with all it’s side-effects and it’s sweaty smell of egoism and ambition’. The exhibition, curated by designer Harri Koskinen, consists of two parts: LIFE, concentrating on the work and life of Wirkkala and STILL, which explore Wirkkala’s identity as a sculptor and shows his exceptional handiwork skills – he had ‘thinking hands’. The exhibition can be seen at Sámi Museum Siida in Inari throughout the summer months and at the Kaustinen Folk Art Centre in the autumn of 2016, before moving on to EMMA in 2017.

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1. Three Engraved Vases by Tapio Wirkkala for Iittala, 1950s
2. Glass Vase, 1948 by Tapio Wirkkala
3. Porcelain Paper Bag Vases, Tapio Wirkkala, 1979
4. Rosenthal Pollo Vases, Studio Line, Tapio Wirkkala,1970s
All, 1st Dibs

Post by Päivi Kotro-Brenner. Instagram @mepaivi

The Espoo Museum of Modern Art is a local bus ride away from Helsinki. Lapland, well, that’ll be a night train. Travel info: visitfinland.com

 

a kaleidoscope of colours, encased in glass.

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Finnish glass, whether for everyday household use or artistic display, is amongst the most covetable and collectable in the world.

While there are few design-lovers today who are not familiar with Kaj Franck’s Kartio glass series for Iittala, pieces by Riihimäen Lasi — a glass factory that operated in Riihimäki, Finland, from 1910 to 1990 — are a little less well known. The factory started out as a producer for packing and window glass, but around 1937 moved into handblown design glass as well. The factory employed a range of designers who produced a large variety of shapes and design. The works of three of them are shown here (from the author’s unassuming collection): Aimo Okkolin, who joined in 1937, Tamara Aladin, who was taken on board in 1959, after she presented her designs for a more lightweight, feminine drinks glass and Erkkitapio Siiroinen, who came to the factory in 1968.

The depth of the colours and the clean lines of the vases satisfy the viewer over and over again, and the heaviness of the glass feels wonderful in the hand. The pieces are made by encasing one layer of coloured glass within the other.

Sadly, the production of blown glass was not commercially viable for Riihimäen Lasi and was ceased in 1976. For the would-be collector, the simpler vases are not impossible to track down. A great number were ‘Made for Export’, mainly to Germany, and can now be found there (try ebay.de) as well as in the UK, with simple pieces starting at £30.

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Although a lot of thought and skill went into the making of the vases, one of Riihimäki’s best known designers, Nanny Still, quipped that often the beautiful colours were haphazard, a mere mix of Finnish pragmatism and frugality: the designers used whatever was left over at the factory that day. If you are currently fretting over the exact shade of minimalist greige for your living room wall, take a breather.

Guest post and photographs by Päivi Kotro-Brenner, a Finnish born copywriter and would-be artist living in London. Her living rooms walls are painted in Atkinson Grey by ECOS. 
The Finnish Glass Museum in Riihimäki can be visited year-round except in January. The museum holds a collection of glassworks dating back 4000 years and regularly has exhibitions on contemporary glass design. (‘I often go there’, said one contributor on a Finnish forum discussing Tamara Aladin, ‘Mainly to eat. Good food there’.)

sorrento simplicity.

Sorrento is a beautiful coastal town on Victoria’s Mornington peninsula, and I have very fond memories of seemingly endless summer days spent on the beach there. This summer house captures the vibe perfectly in its simplicity and feels just about right on these gorgeous, late September days.

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Natural materials reflect the surrounding landscape with timber floorboards, in this case Fir with a white oil finish, and the woody exterior, stained black. Clean white walls reflect the coastal light, with texture provided by the timber lined ceilings, again kept white. The living spaces are open plan with the clever insertion of a log-burning stove and bank of cupboards on one side, and kitchen units on the other. The joinery is kept consistent throughout – white cabinetry and palest grey glass mosaic tiles adding texture and tone wherever a waterproof surface is required. Built-in shelves and a low ledge behind the bed are always a good idea. A second bathroom is kept simple with panels of ply and a reclaimed metal trough.

Scandinavian classics are plentiful with low-slung leather armchairs, Louis Poulsen’s PH5 light, and lots of pieces by Hay and Iittala.

House in Sorrento by Shareen Joel Design. Photographs, Brooke Holm. Via

owly plates.

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1.  Owl on a branch desert plate by West Elm

2.  Taika plate by iittala

3.  Owl plate by Donna Wilson

4.  The One Who Waits plate by Natasha Lawless

More fab four, here