B O O K R E V I E W
In 1873 a small glass works was started in the woods of Central Finland. It was called after the village where it was located. Iittala. The glassworks was going to be the nucleus for a company that is significant and proverbial at the same time for design in the whole world. Nowadays iittala is a leading company in this field. Many of its products are considered as true design aand are now on display in art and design musea from New York to Nuutajärvi, from Berlin to Barcelona. To commemorate its 125th anniversary a lavishly illustrated book came out, ‘Iittala – 125 years of Finnish Glass’. It is an excellent volume that gives a clear overview of its history as well as in-depth details. And on top of that: it is illustrated quite often with lesser known pictures and other illustrations.
Although iittala gradually grew in the middle of the countryside into a succesfull glasworks, it was not until after the Second World its development came into a rapids. In 1946 a glass competiition by iittala Glasworks initiated the co-operation between designers and the company. From there on the true story starts. A story of the Finnish glass production that was initially dominated by Tapio Wirkkala and Timo Sarpaneva showing the best results designed for the company. Soon triumphs followed at Milan Triennales in the 1950s that ensured international acclaim for Finnish glass. Later other success stories saw light like Kaj Franck’s simple laboratory glass looking services, or Oiva Toikka’s more exuberant way of expressing himself in glass like his famous ‘Birds of Toikka’ and unique and monumental pieces. Iittala, 125 years of Finnish Glass is a survey of the most beautiful designs in glass – art glass objects as well as utility glass – by this leading Finnish glassworks. From Aino and Alvar Aalto to Björn Wickström. From Gunnel Nyman to Oiva Toikka. Iittala – 125 years of Finnish Glass is a true tribute to a product that put Finland for once and always on the world map.
Iittala – 125 years of Finnish Glass. Complete history with all designers. Design Museo. ISBN 952 9878 47 8
(June 20, 2007, by Leslie Leijenhorst)