Finnish Design News

January 2017

  • January 1, 2017 – This year marks 100 years of Finnish independence. Finland’s centenary anniversary will be celebrated with a number of fun events. The theme of the centenary year is “Together”, and the program is open to all Finns and friends of Finland. Those who don’t live in Finland but love Finnish design can commemorate the occasion with limited edition ‘Suomi 100’ products from famous Finnish brands. Iittala has released Kastehelmi (Dewdrop) glassware and Aalto vases in a special Ultramarine blue, Finland’s national color. Marimekko also is celebrating the anniversary with the Veljekset pattern by Maija Louekari, which is inspired by Finnish folk tales and depicts the country’s wildlife.

December 2016

  •  December 7, 2016 – A former Arabia factory will be turned into a new iittala and Arabia design center in Helsinki. Here, new styles will merge with timeless classics like Arabia’s Paratiisi tableware and iittala’s Kastehelmi glassware. In the same building, Arabia has a design museum with pieces dating back to 1873.

November 2016

  •  November 16, 2016 – Iittala is releasing a second “Bird and the City” collection, in which influencers collaborate with artist Oiva Toikka to create birds that represent their home cities. The first bird to be created from each range will be given to the person who provided the inspiration from the selected cities. The cities for 2016 are Hong Kong, Seoul, Kyoto, Washington D.C., and Minneapolis. The collection of 200 numbered birds are still crafted in Finland by iittala’s master glass blowers and are limited to 200 each, available in select retail spaces.

March 2016

  •  March 2, 2016 – Target announces its design partnership with Finnish brand Marimekko to start April 17, 2016. Target’s design team traveled to Helsinki to get a feel for the inspiration behind Marimekko’s bold prints. There, they discovered the theme of “endless summer” for the collection. The theme pays ode to the fact that Finns to surround themselves with lively color during dark, long winters and celebrate the long days summer brings; the sun doesn’t set until midnight! Marimekko for Target will highlight 200 prints on outdoor decor, furniture and entertaining essentials, as well as beach and swimwear for women and girls; most items will sell for under $50.

January 2016

  •  January 1, 2016 – This year marks the 80th anniversary of Alvar Aalto’s iconic vase. The fluid lines and timeless style allows the piece to be just as relevant today as it was eight decades ago.  Manufactured by iittala, it takes 7 craftsmen, 12 work stages, 1100 °C and 10 hours to handcraft a single Aalto vase. To celebrate, iittala will release the traditional sizes of the vase in an Emerald green color that pays ode to Alvar’s wife, Aino Aalto, as a similar shade was present in her 1932 collection of glasses.

November 2015

  •  November 12, 2015 – Kaj Franck Award Winner Markku Salo Designer and glass artist Markku Salo received the Kaj Franck Award of 2015 from Design Forum Finland. Salo is known for innovative glassworks that maintain a focus on usability. His versatility and expertise includes incorporating metal, wood and other nontraditional materials into his glass works. Salo is praised for keeping production of his works in Nuutajärvi, Finland since 1983. He has produced works for many companies including iittala, Arabia and aarikka, as well as his own brand Markku Salo Design. His work appears in museums around the world.

July 2015

  • July 15, 2015 – Ittala Brothers and designer duo Ronan and Erwan Buoroullec have been awarded the Red Dot Design Award for their Ruutu vases. Manufactured by iittala, the vases had already received the IF Design Award earlier this year. Ruutu means Diamond in Finnish, and the vases are fittingly named after their shape. This form allows them to form small installations or stand-alone as art objects. Like other iittala glass works, the design pushes the limits of blown glass and requires the skill of crafted blowers to create.

June 2015

  • June 01, 2015 – Tapio Wirkkala Centennial Tapio Wirkkala’s legacy in design, particularly for iittala, carries on strong 100 years after his birth. The beloved industrial artist lived 1915-1985, and in his honor iittala released a special collection in 2015. Relevance, heritage and natural harmony define his works, as seen in his collections of glassware, serving pieces and vases. New productions of Ultima Thule dining and Ovalis vases are among the limited edition releases.

 November 2014

  •  Novemeber 13, 2014 – Kaj Franck Award Winner Harri Koskinen Designer and iittala’s Design Director Harri Koskinen received the Kaj Franck Award of 2014 from Design Forum Finland. Kaj Franck himself was iittala’s Design Director decades earlier, and like Franck, Koskinen has a minimalist approach to design. Koskinen’s works include industrial design, housewares, furniture, lighting, and graphics. A bold and spare style gained him recognition early in his career, and his uncompromising and concept-focused works continue to draw acclaim.

January 2014

  •  January 28, 2014 – 50th Anniversary of Unikko2014 marks the 50th anniversary of Unikko, and it’s amazing to realize that the poppies still so popular today were born half a century ago in 1964. The story started when designer Maija Isola went against her boss’s ban on floral patterns. Marimekko founder Armi Ratia thought no pattern could compete with the beauty of natural flowers, but Isola presented a palette of floral patterns anyways, one of which was Unikko. The powerful poppies are arguably one of the most recognized and beloved patterns today.In commemoration of 50 year mark, Marimekko released a line of special edition Oiva dinnerware in black and white Unikko, each stamped with “Unikko 50th Anniversary” and the late great Maija Isola’s signature on the bottom. Beautiful enough to display in a china cabinet yet functional enough to clean in the dishwasher, the series is one worth collecting. The textile giant also released a fabric portraying Unikko in its largest scale ever, sold in a repeat of two flowers that stretch seven feet high. Made into a statement wall hanging, table cloth or duvet, it’s bound to justly honor the pattern for fans of these Finnish flowers worldwide. Whether you’ve grown up alongside these beautiful blossoms over the past 50 years or recently discovered a love for them, we can bet that they won’t be wilting anytime soon.

October 2013

  •  October 15, 2013 – Artek Commemorates 80th Anniversary of Aalto Stool 6080 years later, and Alvar Aalto’s timeless 1933 design is still standing on its three legs. The iconic stool 60 is now an internationally-acclaimed design, and has been Artek’s best-selling product ever. Simple, stackable and dependable, the stool was revolutionary for its time, swapping the standard metal legs for bent wood ones in his now famous L-shape. While this milestone is a time to celebrate the original design, it also serves as an opportunity to revamp the classic with modern twists. Artek has released a number of special editions for the 80 year anniversary, and each uses the stool as a canvas in a different way.The Anniversary Editions: With striking colors taken directly from Aalto’s Paimio Sanatorium, these six stools make a statement with the yellow from the floors, green from the walls, turquoise from the handrails and orange, white and black from various pieces of furniture in the functionalist building.Special Editions by Mike Meiré: For fans of something a bit more funky, the special edition collection by German artist Mike Meiré embraces asymmetry by painting the legs of each stool a different color. With six fresh color combinations, there is bound to be a character to fit every personal style and interior décor. The stool with the color palette of red, white, black and birch was designed to reflect the architectural Bauhaus movement. A second stool uses an airy shade of pink and stale white pair with natural birch to offer a lighter mood. Another combination plays with the neon trend that dominated the year, with a striking shade of sulfur against black, white and neutral birch. Each has its own personality, but all are stunning tributes to the original Aalto masterpiece.Special Edition by Comme des Garçons: Joined by the playful phrase “For the love of polka dots,” this bubbly stool was designed by Japanese artist and founder of fashion house Comme des Garçons, Rei Kawakubo. It features black spots varying in size and placement on the seat and legs, each one contrasting beautifully against the white lacquered wood. The curvy shapes perfectly compliment the iconic, curved L-leg of Aalto’s Stool 60.Special Edition by Nao Tamura: A beautiful interpretation of 80 years passed, this special edition stool designed by Nao Tamura features the cross section of a tree, where each ring represents one year of its long life. The metaphor plays out beautifully not only in concept but in the three dimensional design, where each ring acts as an inward layer of the seat’s circular shape. In bold black and white, this design evokes an emotional response that is both strong and delicate in nature.Special Edition by Tom Dixon: Wanting to draw attention to the simple shape of the Stool 60, former Artek creative director Tom Dixon designed this stool in the color that most draws our attention in emergencies: fluorescent orange. With Aalto being a lover of vivid color, it is a safe bet he too would have been drawn to this shocking shade.Special Edition by Mads Nørgaard: Called “I like stripes vol. 2,” Danish fashion designer Mads Nørgaard brings us his version of the iconic Stool 60. Inspired by the graphic prints of secondhand menswear, he introduces textiles into the design with a black zigzag pattern similar in style to herringbone tweed.Special Edition by Monocle: Monocle magazine brings a rustic yet still authentic edge to the classic stool by upholstering the seat with Finnish moose leather. Underneath, the hardware is swapped for black iron nails and brass screws which will only grow more beautiful with age, just as the Stool 60 has.Pure: Of course, it wouldn’t be right to release a line of colorful and quirky renditions without having one left raw and stripped of all other distractions. Stool 60 Pure is the original three-legged stool as designed by Aalto himself in 1933. The natural beauty of the birch and minimalist shape of this timeless classic won’t ever go out of style, even in another 80 years.

June 2013

  • June 26, 2013 – New Designer Flair for FinnairMarimekko is teaming up with Finnair to delight air travel passengers and Finnish design fanatics alike. The three year partnership began this spring of 2013, bringing on board a line of textiles and tableware featuring Marimekko’s classic patterns. Not only will this bring a fresh and lively dimension to the flying experience, but use of lighter materials will also lead to better fuel efficiency and therefore an overall reduced carbon footprint.This is not the first partnership Finnair has had with famous Finnish icons, but it may certainly be the greatest. Santa Claus, the Moomin characters and Angry Birds have also graced the giant jets.To further celebrate the collaboration, two long-haul aircrafts were decked out in the iconic designs, which were printed on the exterior of the plane. “We hope that Marimekko’s sympathetic Unikko poppy flowers flying up in the sky as well as our other iconic prints as a part of the in-flight experience bring joy to people around the world,” said Mika Ihamuotila, Marimekko’s President and CEO, “I believe that the Marimekko and Finnair design collaboration will bring to hectic and often grey air travel joy, peace of mind and beautiful memories.”  Read Full Story