Shards bring good fortune, so it says…
Unless it concerns my Iittala collection!

Sixteen years ago, I had a part time job in a very nice interior store. It was then when I laid my eye on the Iittala collection for the first time. Strange to say, but as much as I liked it I did not read immediately a lot about it. So for quite a while (let’s say the last 16 years were not my reading years) I really did not know it was actually the name of a Finnish village. I, till then, assumed it was an Italian brand and the designers played a little bit with an extra i and t.

My first love was the Ultima Thule series. The sixties vibe was very appealing to me, but on the other hand I was not sure if I thought the glasses were esthetic or not.

For years I tittle-tattled a bit about them and I really can’t give you a good reason why I never bought a piece. Maybe some things appear in your life when you’re ready for it. Last Christmas during a lovely and cosy dinner with our team, we got 2 whiskey glasses from our dearest Sanne! (Did I mention I am a big fan of a good whisky? Maybe something to write about soon ; )

Nice to learn (as I read a lot more these days) that 2015 marked 100 years since the birth of Tapio Wirkkala, the designer of these 2 beauties. Congratulations Tapio, and merry Christmas for me indeed. Wirkkala designed a significant proportion of his work for Iittala, the most famous being Ultima Thule.

‘Inspired by the melting ice in Lapland, Wirkkala originally created the surface of Ultima Thule in the 1960s after carving into a graphic mould. An exclusive design reflecting the thousands of hours spent perfecting the glass-blowing technique required to produce the effect.

To honour the great designer and the centenary, Iittala has expanded the Ultima Thule series. Two plates of different sizes, a glass for sparkling wine and a pitcher have returned to the series. A new sturdy beer glass also joined the product range.’

As we know now it is never too late to learn about your classics. I will tell you about my other Iittala discovery. For getting my inspiration level up, I borrowed a pile of architectural poetry books. You know: loads of pictures, less words. One of the books was about Alvar Aalto. I stargazed picturing myself in one of those extremely cool and beautiful houses. Then again I laid my eye on an Iittala icon. The distinctive, organic shape of the glass vase. Very recognizable ‘an Iittala’.

Lucky me there were a few words explaining that it concerned a vase from the architect and his wife Aino Marsio. The Aalto Vase is also known as the Savoy Vase: it was one of a range of custom furnishings and fixtures. Created by Alvar and Aino for the luxury Savoy restaurant in Helsinki that opened in 1937.

‘The vase was also designed as an entry in a design competion for the Ahlström owned Iittala glassworks factory in 1936. The design was inspired by the dress of a Sami woman. Eskimåkvinnans skinnbyxa (the Eskimo woman’s leather breech).The design consisted of a series of crayon drawings on cardboard and scratch paper. Aalto created initial prototypes by blowing glass in the middle of a composition of wooden sticks stuck into the ground, letting the molten glass swell on only some sides and creating a wavy outline.

The initial manufacture of the vase was not without problems and the original idea of using molds made of thin steel sheets forced together to form closed sinuous shapes had to be abandoned. The vase was originally manufactured by the glassworks factory using a wooden mold which was slowly burned away. This vase was later displayed for the 1937 World’s Fair in Paris. The original height of the Savoy vase was 140mm. Aalto never made money with the vase, because the designs belonged to the factory for which the design competition entry was produced.

The vase has been manufactured in nearly a full spectrum of colours. The simplicity of the vase continues to be popular in the 21st century. Smaller versions of the vase, just as Aalto designed them with the seams visible and a slight curve at the base, are still produced by glasspressing at the Iittala glass factory in Finland. Larger versions are made using Aalto’s design, but without seams.’

In recent times the vase has achieved iconic status, but that not only is this vase.
Alvar Aalto took me recently to another era.
I caught myself, completely speechless surrounded by a part of his estate. That Alvar Aalto is an architect is clear, but I would rather call him an absolute ‘Gesamtkünstler’ from the highest level. A perfect translation of taste and ‘Zeitgeist’. Aesthetic madness in a social cultural context. I would say he was pretty hardcore in a modest way, but I haven’t read about him as a character.

Let’s learn some more about that, but it will be another story that will appear on this blog very soon… Can’t hardly wait myself.



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