Wirkkala / Iceberg

One of the highlights of our current exhibition “Nordic by Nature” is the Iceberg, designed by the Finnish artist Tapio Wirkkala (1915-1985) in 1956. The bowl is made of mould-blown clear class and executed at Iittala glassworks.

Before he came to Iittala Wirkkala had studied ornamental sculpting at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in Helsinki and his glass designs are characterized by a distinctive sculptural approach. Wirkkala found inspiration in the Finnish countryside; in the landscapes of the harsh Finnish winters. His work often expresses a fondness for ice-like surfaces and reflects the all-pervading influence of wind, weather and natural surroundings, which are so pronounced in Finland. Still, as the Iceberg exemplifies, his celebrated love of the cold, isolated North is finely balanced by a distinct elegance and delicacy in conception.

Finland stood out at the international design scene in the mid 20th Century with spectacular success in the field of glass design. Artists like Wirkkala and Timo Sarpaneva introduced new directions. Their works were no longer intended for use as vases or bowls, but displayed as art objects in their own right. Wirkkala’s designs won several international awards, including Grand Prix medals at the Milan Triennales in the 1950s.