Friday, May 20

My top ten iconic iittala products

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Iittala was founded in 1881 to produce household glass items and chemist bottles. However, it was not until the 1920s and 30s, that iittala as we know it came into being. In that era of burgeoning creativity, iittala attracted artists like Alvar and Aino Aalto who led the way in creating glassware that was beautiful, modern and functional. 

Today iittala is one of the frontrunners in the world of modern design. It has become synonymous with high quality and its glassware is renowned for its timeless beauty and functionality. Here I have put together a list of 10 iittala products that according to me are the most iconic. Some of these were created more than 70 years ago, but have survived the test of time and remain as popular as ever.

1. Aalto vase (1936)

The Aalto vase dates back to 1936 and was first presented at the Paris World Fair. Alvar Aalto's first sketches for the vases were playfully called "Eskimo woman's leather trousers". Its fluid, organic form is still mouth blown today at the Iittala factory and it takes a team of seven skilled artisans working as one to create one Aalto vase. 

2. Aino Aalto (1932) 
Echoing rings of water, this pressed glassware from 1932 is tactile proof that essential design is timeless. Simple, space saving design that permits stacking and versatility were the starting point for these classics. In production since its launch, Aino Aalto glassware now celebrates 80 years of design history. 

3. Tappio (1952)
Considered synonymous with Finnish design, Tapio Wirkkala excelled in the art of glassmaking by capturing a single air bubble inside the stem of the glass. He intended it as an eternal reminder for us to enjoy each fleeting moment. 

4. Sarpaneva (1960) 
With a wooden handle and a cast iron body, this ultimate design classic is as functional in the kitchen as it is appealing on the dining table. Combining design usability with a traditional cast iron pot, Timo Sarpaneva’s inspiration came from his blacksmith grandfather.
5. Maribowl (1960) 
These cute little Maribowls have been in production since 60s. But they shot into the limelight when Marimekko’s founder, Armi Ratia, used them in her famous garden parties at Bökärs. This celebrity endorsement resulted in these humble bowls becoming collector’s items. 

6. Kastahelmi (1964)

Kastahelmi means dewdrops in Finnish and refers to the circles of bubbles in the pressed glass. Inspired by Finnish nature, the dewdrops glisten like a string of pearls on grass in the morning sun. Oiva Toikka’s love for experimentation led to the creation of this unique droplet design for Kastehelmi. 

7. Birds by Toikka (1972)
Oiva Toikka’s limitless imagination combined with his sophisticated knowledge of glass to make possible for him and Iittala glassblowers to create these gorgeous birds. Toikka has created more than 400 birds over the last forty years. Each bird is individually mouth-blown, and is one of a kind. 

8. Kivi (1988)
Heikki Orvola, Kivi's creator says, “When I got the commission, I knew what they wanted from me: a Scandinavian glass candleholder. I gave it some thought and then that ‘blunt piece of tubing’ began to take shape in my mind.” This is how t
he these tea candle holders became so minimalistic and timeless. 
9. Taika Plate 2007
Taika means ‘Magic’ in Finnish. An apt name for this range of bold and enchanting tableware. Klaus Haapaniemi’s illustrations inspire your own imagination and storytelling. These fascinating and magical designs gradually reveal their details and layers of meaning to the user.

10. Vitriini 2010

Anu Penttinen's Vitriini boxes are the perfect way to display all the little things you love. This colorful range gives endless possibilities of storing small objects and putting them on show. I love the way the boxes combine glass, wood and aluminum in one seamless whole.

All images courtesy iittala.

Wednesday, May 18

Happy 60th Anniversary Marimekko

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Marimekko Flying High
These are exciting times for Marimekko, the Finnish textile company known for its bright, bold prints is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. The anniversary comes at a time when Marimekko is expanding at a rapid pace. There are already 84 Marimekko stores worldwide, seven of them opening this year alone, including a massive flagship store on New York's Fifth Avenue. Its London presence will be expanding too, with a second store opening in the coming months at Shoreditch. It is clear that Marimekko is on a roll right now. 

Founded by textile artist Ami Ratia in 1951, Marimekko came as a breath of fresh air at a time of post second world war austerity. Ratia’s idea was to supply some much-needed playfulness and fun and revitalize the dying fashion industry. The formula worked and how! At the very first Marimekko fashion show in Helsinki, women went wild for her graphic print dresses. The free flowing shift dresses were the complete opposite to the 1950s fitted, waist-pinching dresses. A shape that women embraced immediately, for it was forgiving and flattering at the same time. 

To kick start its 60th anniversary celebrations, Marimekko held a fashion show at the Esplanade Park in Helsinki. The show on a sunny May afternoon took place exactly 60 years from the fashion show that started the Marimekko story. 

The event culminated with the debut flight of the Unikko (poppy) hot-air balloon over the Helsinki silhouette.

All images courtesy Marimekko.

Sunday, May 15


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One sunny May afternoon while walking around Helsinki city centre, I went into a shopping mall on Mannerheimintie and chanced upon a store called ‘Indiska’. Now that sounds very much like India, I thought to myself. My curiosity piqued I went in to have a better look at their wares, only to find a treasure trove of bright Indian pinks, oranges, greens and blues. Gorgeous contemporary clothing, furnishings and accessories, glittering with sequins, embroidery and appliquéd mirror work. Shelves after shelves stacked with kaftans, bandgalas, embroidered jackets, stunning beads and silver jewellery. It was like finding a slice of vibrant India in Scandinavia. 

Indiska, which literally means Indian, was founded in 1901 by an enterprising Swedish woman Mathilda Hamilton She travelled to India as a pastor’s wife and lived in the Himalayas for seven years from 1894-1901, it was here that she acquired a lifelong love for all things Indian. Once back home in Sweden she opened the first store on Government Street in Stockholm and called it Indiska Utställningen (Indian Exhibition). More than 110 years later the brand is still going strong, having become synonymous with contemporary Indian style in fashion and interior design. 

The current CEO Sofie Gunolf, says “We want to convey our passion for India and it’s crafts, colors and materials. All our products are designed in-house and are a unique mix of Scandinavian design with Indian influences. In one word, Indiska is Bohemian Modern, radiating with colors, patterns and energy. We want to give our customers the opportunity to look like they feel inside and be able to decorate their homes the same way”.

All images courtesy of Indiska.

Tuesday, May 10

Aero Furniture Store in Helsinki

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During my stay in Helsinki, there were a number of delightful shops which I enjoyed visiting. Among them, a favourite is Aero, one of the best places to find the best of Finnish design. I can easily spend an entire day in this shop! 

Aero is an interior design store located in down town Helsinki, in the heart of the Design District. The shop displays top designs in furniture, rugs, fabrics and lighting from Finnish, Scandinavian and European manufactures. 

The store is housed in a period building with high ceilings, vintage plasterwork and beautiful tiled floors. The interior has been tastefully restored and contrasts magnificently with the sleek contemporary furniture. 

Located next to the Dianapuisto Park, bang opposite the Design Forum Shop, the store opened in 2000 and rapidly became a leader in its field, going on to became a part of Artek in 2010. 

All of these pictures are from my visit to Aero. Clearly not to be missed!
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