Award-winner: “Format”, 2011, by Christophe de la Fontaine.
When something has a rose in its name, it is destined to be associated with refined beauty. Perhaps Philipp Rosenthal knew that when he founded a porcelain-painting company in Selb back in 1879. But did he also realise that he was on the point of creating what was to become a global brand? A brand that would still be a highly influential creative force in the third millennium? That is just as sought-after in Shanghai as it is in Chicago or Paris? (by Atrium)
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'Bolle' bottles by Tapio Wirkkala, the product of a collaboration with Murano-based glassworks Venini, 1966–67; image courtesy of Venini
With leading Finnish design brand Artek reissuing two of its fellow countryman Tapio Wirkkala’s striking designs from the late 1960s and early 70s, as well as first-time-round, ‘vintage’ pieces of his being shown at international design fairs such as Design Miami Basel, now is the time to look back at the work of this highly productive designer, whose contribution to postwar Scandinavian design was as major as it was diverse.
Land of the midnight sun Finland may, in terms of historical regional politics and power at least, have often been eclipsed by its Scandinavian neighbours Sweden and Denmark, but when it comes to having helped define the course of the postwar 20th-century design, the country has certainly never been in the shadows.
'X-Frame Table' by Tapio Wirkkala, originally for Asko Oy, 1958; recently reissued by Artek
‘Domus’, the iconic and authoritative Italian design journal founded in the 1920s by architect-designer Gio Ponti, did much to disseminate images of, and commentary on, Finnish design to an international audience from the 1950s onwards, but the work of one its countrymen more than any other was to appear in its pages with great regularity: Tapio Wirkkala. Indeed, Wirkkala, who trained as a decorative carver but went on to become a key figure in Scandinavian modernism, was included in the pantheon of prolific designers’ names that featured in the masthead of the magazine from the early 1960s until 1973.
Tapio with coffee pot from the 'Finlandia' service, produced by Rosenthal AG in the 1950s; image courtesy of the Tapio Wirkkala Rut Bryk Foundation
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