Monday, September 17, 2012

Inspiring Icons/ Tapio Wirkkala

Left: Tapio Wirkkala in his later years, Right: One of his organically formed vases, The Kanttarelli vase for Iittala 
A collection of  his glass silhouettes including the Ultima Thule bowls, pitcher and glasses
in their distinctive icicle shapes

Left: Tapio in his studio in the 1950's, Right: Dish with compartments, Hopeakeskus
Pictures courtesy of 

Some of Tapio's furniture designs including a X Frame dining table, 1958, coffee tables and drinks cart

Laminated birch wood forms, Left: Platter, designed in 1951, Right: Bowl designed in 1954

Left: Pollo vases, designed for Rosenthal, 1970, Right: Venini Murano Coreani bowl, 1960's
Pictures courtesy of 

Left: Variatsion Coffee Set for Rosenthal, Right: Paperbag vase for Rosenthal, 1977
Pictures courtesy of 

Some of Tapio's glass vases from the 1950's-1980's

White ceramic vases produced for Rosenthal

Other glass forms, Left to Right: Olive green vase for Iittala, Bolle bottles for Venini and vase for Iittala

Tapio Wirkkala (1915-1985) might be a difficult name for some to remember, but if familiar with his work it soon becomes unforgettable! Many of us grew up with his designs without probably even knowing. I know as I started to collect his work as an adult, I remembered some of the glass pieces he produced for well-known Finnish company Iittala that my parents had, (probably long given away to charity along with many other mid century classics)

I always knew Tapio as a glassware designer mainly, but I have come to learn he also fashioned many pieces from wood and also used this material to produce furniture and even the designed the Finnish bank notes, introduced in 1955. His range was immense and in Finland he is probably known as their most famous, versatile and influential designer evoking a national identity in his work by drawing on the materials and processes of Finnish handicraft and naturalistic forms

Among his most famous works has been the design for the Finlandia vodka bottle (1970-2000) and for Iittala's Ultima Thule set of kitchen glasses. Both glassware items feature a dripping icicle look, and in the case of Iittala's popular glassware set it took thousands of hours to develop a glassblowing technique that would produce the effect. He also produced his glass bird series that have become extremely collectable. 

I am lucky enough to own a number of his ceramics he designed for German company Rosenthal.

An amazing designer, I love the delicacy and texture of his work, To me there is a thread and distinct approach that is only his, To be such a successful commercial designer and to have produce such distinctive products with such personality is to be admired, I hope to collect many more of his pieces in the future.

A great source is a website devoted to his career, Check out

1 comment:

  1. more ceramics Wirkkala designed for German company Rosenthal. -> + facebook (Brummer & Brummer oy)