Finnish Glass Art
Finland has become synonymous with design in many areas, one of them thanks to the country's portfolio of Finnish glass art. After all, wood, water and quartz are the basic elements to manufacture glass; all which Finland has in abundance. In fact, Finland is so rich with glass history that some say it has a "glass trail" which winds from the capital Helsinki up into the northern country. Along this trail, you can see how Finnish glass art is made at factories and studios, view the most iconic pieces at exhibitions and museums, and purchase pieces of your own at outlet shops and galleries.
Finland had been an expert in the medium for more than 300 years, but it took the international spotlight for its Finnish glass art in the mid 1930's with figures such as Alvar Aalto, Oiva Toikka, Tapio Wirkkala, Kaj Franck, and Timo Sarpaneva. However, newer artists are emerging to continue the tradition in innovative forms. One of the biggest new names in Finnish glass art today is Anu Penttinen. Like many emerging designers, Penttinen got her degree from Aalto University, one of the leading Art and Design schools which teaches glass design. Penttinen has her own Finnish glass art gallery "Nounou," situated in the design district of Punavuori in Helsinki. Like many glass artists, she works for leading glass design company iittala, a brand you will find filling the shelves of almost every Finnish home. A visit to iittala's flagship store at Esplanadi is also a must for anyone interested in Finnish glass art. Helsinki houses another design district called Arabianranta, where you will find the iittala headquarters and outlet, the Arabia museum, and a plethora of other designer shops.
Penttinen lives in Nuutajarvi, a community long known for its glassworks and artists. It's where Oiva Toikka's famous glass birds were made for forty years, along with designs from the factory's former art director and designer Kaj Franck. It is the oldest glassworks in Finland.
Though iittala no longer uses Nuutajarvi for production, it still has its master glassblowers creating Finnish glass art by hand in Finland. If you want to see where the famous Finnish glass Aalto vases are made, be sure to make a trip to the town sharing the same name. The village of Iittala gives free tours of the main plant and is also home to an outlet and museum.
The rest of glass company iittala's roots lie in the quaint village of Fiskars, which is also the name of the brand's parent company. You may also recognize the name from the famous Finnish scissors with the orange handles. Fiskars' quirky workshops sit among historic buildings like the Gallery Sirius, Cooperative Onoma and Blu Bianca, a glass studio. More than 100 professional artists live and work in Fiskars.
For more insight on glass making, the Finnish Glass Museum in Riihimäki glass museum offers tour of Finland's 300-year-old history of Finnish art glass production in a former glass factory. A nearby glassblowing district “Hyttikortteli” sits among historic glass art studios, while the hot shop and gallery Lasismi provides a way for Finnish art glass admirers to witness the skilled blowing up close and personal.
Finnish Glass Art