Monday, April 25, 2011

75 years of Alvar Aalto: The Iittala Aalto Vase

Alvar Aalto Vase with Tulips

This year is the 75th anniversary of that eternal icon of modern design, the Iittala Alvar Aalto Vase. 75 years ago in 1937 the vase was first displayed at the World’s Fair in Paris. At the time, it was called the Savoy Vase, because it was included as part of a luxury line for the Savoy restaurant in Helsinki. The Iittala vase had been originally designed by Alvar Aalto and his wife Aino Aalto as an entry in a design competition in Finland in 1936. Despite the enduring popularity of the vase, Alvar Aalto never financially profited from it because the design was owned by the factory that held the design competition.

Despite this, Alvar Aalto became one of the most important designers and architects in Finland. His work transcended Nordic and Scandinavian design, and his buildings, textiles, furniture and glassware can be found all over the world today. His wife, Aino Aalto also designed glassware for Iittala.

Alvar Aalto Vase and mini bowl

The Aalto Vase is sometimes said to have been inspired by the shape of the Finnish archipelago -- Alvar Aalto's father was a mapmaker and this may have influenced his work. Others believe that it was originally inspired by a dress worn by a woman of the Sami people, an indigenous group that hail from Northern Sweden, Finland and Norway. Aalto’s entry in the design competition was titled “Eskimåkvinnans skinnbyxa” or the Eskimo woman's leather breeches, implying that this is where he drew his inspiration.

Iittala Alvar Aalto vase with goldfish swimming in it
Kaj Franck’s later glass work with Iittala Finland made it possible to create glassware in more vibrant and vivid colors. In recent years the Alvar Aalto vase has been released in colors that Aalto would have loved, but were not technologically available to him at the time. He experimented with many colors using a wood mold and glass that was meant for bottles and jars. These days, high-quality art glass is used, resulting in Alvar Aalto vases in a range of brilliant colors.

In 2011 the Iittala Aalto Vase is available in clear, white, light blue, rio brown, apple green, water green, black, frosted and flaming red. The vase is available in six different sizes. Additionally, the Alvar Aalto bowl and mini-bowl are made in the same shape -- the mini-bowl makes for a creative business card holder -- as well as votives, trays and serving platters.

Alvar Aalto votive candles

Until the end of May, Fjorn Scandinavian is offering free US shipping and a gift of a free clear Alvar Aalto votive candle holder on all Alvar Aalto overs over $99. Shop Fjorn Scandinavian's Alvar Aalto Collection now.