Inside the Iittala Glassware Factory

Last time I talked about Iittala I highlighted their new ceramic collection titled Sarjaton which is based on Finnish heritage with a crafted touch. At the time I was actually hunting for some photographs of the glassware that Iittala produce being made in their workshop, I was particularly interested in this because I heard they used a wooden mould which is hand carved. This instantly peaked my interest and I had to hunt around for more information, unfortunately there didn’t seem to be anything of any substance so I was left hanging on a shoestring. I sent a quick email over to the Iittala headquarters and they were kind enough to give me full reign to their image bank which is full of inspiring imagery, I obviously decided to pick out my favourites and all of them revolve around factory imagery of the glass being blown and shaped. Specifically pinpointing the Alvar Aalto collection which is made at the Iittala glass factory and also at Nuutajärvi, where art pieces such as Birds by Toikka are blown.

First of all I’ll touch upon the Alvar Aalto collection which is obviously one of my favourites, Alvar originally designed this famous collection of objects for a competition organised by Iittala in 1936. Glassblowing begins with a round, symmetric ball from molten glass, which is why symmetry is typical in glass design. Alvar Aalto wanted to ‘free’ the glass from confinement and create an organic, living form which emphasised reflections. What I’ve really loved about Aalto and his design is that it’s playful and that he doesn’t take what he created too seriously. He actually named the competition entry in 1936 ‘Eskimo woman’s leather trousers’ which is sort of strange and amusing at the same time, I find this really showcases his personality and humour, it also shows us that as a designer he was always concerned with how humans would use what he made and their needs.

The other snaps seen here, mainly at the bottom of the post, also include the Birds collection designed by Oiva Toikka. Each one of these is individually mouth-blown, I think it’s incredible how you can make something this detailed out of glass, absolutely superb. Overall I hope you enjoy the images that I’ve put together here, hopefully they inspire you and keep you going for a few days until we find you something new to read about.


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