A recent obsession revolves around amazing Finnish designer Tapio Wirkkala(1915 – 1985).

I have been drawn to his designs for years now, and only just realised that some of his pieces are actually within my range on ebay! What joy.

The following are examples of the ‘Bolle’ range Wirkkala produced for Venini in 1978.

image via Concepts and Contents

The range is created using the ‘incalmo’ process, combining two molten masses of different coloured glass.

images via Mid-Century Modernist and Worthpoint


These gorgeous glass pieces are quite hard to find, and as a result way out of my price range, but one can always dream!

images via Despard Gallery

Wirkkala was extremely prolific and designed all sorts of items for various companies, Iittala, Rosenthal and Venini among them. One of his less known designs which have hugely influenced modern life is the invention of the plastic ketchup bottle!

You will likely recognize one his designs, the original Finlandia vodka bottle, using his labour intensive ‘ice glass’ technique created by burning the surface of wooden moulds with  molten glass.

The process was used extensively for Iittala, and references melting ice, studied for weeks by Wirkkala for the designs.

These ‘Ultima Thule’ glasses were originally created in the late 60s for Finnair’s new flight route to JFK airport in New York.

image via Aldente

My favourite designs are his white porcelain pieces, mostly made for German company Rosenthal.

I have recently acquired a perfect, little, white ‘Pollo’ (chicken) vase. Designed in 1970 for Rosenthal’s Studio Line in Germany, the vase has simple, stylized, Brancusi-influenced lines and a matte bisque finish with textural detailing, like chicken skin, at the mouth.

Having seen it only online and in print before it’s arrival I was pleasantly surprised by the actual vase when it arrived. It is perfectly weighted with a rounded base that nestles in your hand and that it balances on. It is also finely glazed with a matte glaze, which you can see faint brushstrokes in, evidence of the craftsperson’s hand. In subtle contrast, the ‘chicken bumps’ and interior is glazed in gloss – a beautiful detailed touch in contrasting textures.

Here is a shot of my little baby below. The attention to detail and feel of the piece are exquisite! It is hard to put down, and feels almost alive when you hold it.

So tempted to get the matching black one, too, which are frequently listed on German ebay, but must resist…

or find a suitable occasion to celebrate in gratuitous consumerism.  🙂

image via Ebay.de


Here are a few other stunning porcelain pieces with stylized organic shapes.

image via Decornet


image via R-Lab


image via Design Classics 24


I initially thought these lovely shapes only came in black and white, but recently saw them in bright colours.

image via Botterweg

Wirkkala really believed in letting the materials speak for themselves and spent hours perfecting and synthesizing forms in his sketches, which you feel in the items when you hold them.

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