The heyday of art glass

Finnish Design

Functionality and enduring design are in the core of Iittala's design philosophy. Founded in 1881, Iittala started as a glass manufacturer. Today, glass and art glass are still an important part of Italy's heritage.

Handicraft skills and traditional materials became important during and immediately after the Second World War, when there was a shortage of materials.

Among the central figures of the 1940s were the interior designer Ilmari Tapiovaara and the glass designer Gunnel Nyman.

Tapiovaara was a pioneer in the field of ergonomic seating design.

Famous example is his Domus chair from 1947.

During her short career Gunnel Nyman (1909–1948) designed a series of art objects of glass that pre-echoed the heyday of art glass in the 1950s.

With the resurgence of industrial production in the 1950s, design suddenly took on a central role in Finnish cultural life.

Glass design, particularly art glass, rose to prominence.

Tapio Wirkkala, Timo Sarpaneva, Nanny Still, Saara Hopea and Kaj Franck designed high-quality glassware in a streamlined modern idiom.

The textile industry recovered and responded to the strong post war demand for fabrics.

Traditional ryijy rugs were designed in increasingly rich colours, and absorbed influence from abstract painting.

Major expositions such as the Milan Triennial gave Finnish design a place in the international limelight.

Finland garnered major prizes in several years, and the victorious designers were lionised like Olympic champions in the press. 

A new phenomenon in Finnish glass is numerous studio glass artists and glassblowers creating their art in small hot shops.

Glass Gallery Mafka & Alakoski represents fresh designs and the art of Finnish contemporary glass in the city centre.


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