Collection of work by Tapio Wirkkala

After visiting the studio of Mari Andrews in yesterday’s post I’ve kept my nose to the ground in the search for another super creative individual and thankfully I stumbled upon the website of Finish designer Tapio Wirkkala. Now Tapio is unfortunately no longer gracing this earth since his passing in the middle of the eighties, however he has left behind him an expansive array of designs that have in some cases come to typify what contemporary Finish design signifies: simplicity, elegance and an honest, pure aesthetic.

I’ve tried my best to put together a selection of images that best describes his stance as a designer/maker, he was passionate about controlling every process in the making of his creations and was never daunted by the idea of using a new material to convey an idea he had. I think this really shows throughout his portfolio the diversity of items that he did make, so hopefully I’ve provided a bit of an overview in the images brought across here. Below in the very last photo you can see a glass mould he made by hand and this material was one of his favourite mediums having produced various iconic pieces for the great Iittala and Venini factories who are both still ever popular today.

One thing that I was really amazed to learn was Tapio actually turned his hand to designing a series of banknotes which were kept in circulation for the longest amount of time recorded in Finland, so it’s no wonder he’s considered such a legend there. Great designers in my eyes are those that can take a project that will influence the everyday lives of millions and provide an air of class and sophistication that feels so inherently right that it’s not even considered by the user, it’s simply meant to be designed that way. Tapio was a master of finding this subconscious balance and so was sought after by the ambitious creative companies of his day, the Rosenthal factory in Germany was another he had strong connections for example, alongside Kultakeskus in his homeland who he designed cutlery and metal items for (seen in images 3 & 7).

An area I haven’t spoken much upon so far is sculpture as Tapio also took to this art like a duck to water, in fact this was his first creative love. In my opinion this is where he acquired his eye for design that speaks it’s own visual language. A lot of his works feel recognisable to me even though I’ve not come across them before, their honesty is somewhat alluring. The plywood leaf that you can see in the second image is my personal favourite as the poise and detailing of this piece is really quite remarkable. Browsing through his portfolio was a real pleasure so I defiantly recommend doing the same if you enjoy this series below.


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