The Iittala Glass Factory was founded by Peter Magnus Abrahamson with the first glass items made on November 24th, 1881. In the early years, Iittala produced blown, pressed, polished and etched glass according to continental models.
Iittala Glass Factory was established
Aino Aalto entered ”Bölgeblick” in a Karhula-Iittala design competition. The Aino Aalto glassware, which is the oldest item in Iittala’s current portfolio, originated from ”Bölgeblick.”
Alvar Aalto won a Karhula-Iittala design competition in 1936 with his submission of 11 glass vases. The iconic Aalto vase was part of the winning entry and was presented a year later at the 1937 Paris World Fair.
Aalto vase, Alvar Aalto
Iittala’s breakthrough came in the early years of modernism and functionalism during the 1930s and 1940s. Pioneers like Kaj Franck, and Alvar and Aino Aalto led the brand’s progressive development.
Göran Hongell’s Aarne glass series (1948) won a gold medal in the Milan Triennale in 1954. Aarne lead the way in Nordic glass design.
Aarne, Göran Hongell
Kaj Franck’s tableware series, Teema (Kilta’s successor), is an icon of Nordic design for its simplicity, functionality and versatility. By combining form and function, Franck created
Teema (Kilta), Kaj Franck
a groundbreaking series that continues to be respected and cherished around the world.
During the Golden Age of Design between the 1950s and 1960s, Iittala’s international fame was led by Finnish mid-century design heroes like Tapio Wirkkala and Timo Sarpaneva.
In his work Kaj Franck focused on the essential. His refined and functional Kartio glass series is a symbol of distinct Nordic design. The collection’s wide colour range exemplifies Iittala’s glass colour expertise.
Kartio, Kaj Franck
Timo Sarpaneva’s cast iron pot embodies modern Scandinavian everyday design at its best.
Sarpaneva pot, Timo Sarpaneva
The pot’s wooden handle was inspired by classic Finnish traditions.
Sarpaneva’s i-range, designed in 1956 was an exquisite collection of delicate glass. Its red and white trademark, the i-logo, eventually became the symbol for the entire Iittala brand.
Like Oiva Toikka, the Kastehelmi (”dewdrop” in Finnish) collection is both playful and refined. Toikka invented the unique raised droplet design as a way to hide joint marks left on the pressed glass from the production process.
Kastehelmi, Oiva Toikka
Timo Sarpaneva’s Festivo candleholders were an instant international success. Festivo has become one of the best known examples of Finnish design.
Festivo, Timo Sarpaneva
Inspired by his love for Nordic nature, design pioneer Tapio Wirkkala defied the rules of glassblowing when he created Ultima Thule with Iittala in 1968.
Ultima Thule, Tapio Wirkkala
Timo Sarpaneva and Tapio Wirkkala renewed Iittala’s glass design in the 1960’s by bringing a distinct, rough glass surface aesthetic to art and everyday glass.
Oiva Toikka’s globally beloved glass bird collection began with the Flycatcher. Since then, over 500 playful birds have joined the flock, which continues to grow in collaboration with the Toikka family.
Birds by Toikka, Oiva Toikka
In the 1970s, Iittala focused on clear glass and temporarily stopped the production of coloured glass. Colour production resumed in the 1980s. Today, Iittala’s treasured glass colour archive consists of approximately 200 colours.
Heikki Orvola’s Kivi tealight candleholder is a modern classic of Nordic design. The object’s thick glass shows the clarity and refractive values of Iittala’s glass and the brand’s expertise in glass colours.
Kivi, Heikki Orvola
Alfredo Häberli created the Essence glass series for versatility and function. Its modern, minimalistic design has been recognized with many prestigious design awards.
Essence, Alfredo Häberli
In 1986, the 50th anniversary celebration of the Aalto vase led to newfound fame and made it the most recognized Iittala object in the world.
The Taika collection mixes Klaus Haapaniemi’s rich illustrations with
Taika, Klaus Haapaniemi
the streamlined shapes of Heikki Orvola’s Aika tableware. Taika’s world famous design is featured in ceramics, glass, interior objects and textiles.
Matti Klenell’s Nappula series started with candleholders and grew with more home décor items including candelabras, tealight candleholders and ceramic plant pots.
Nappula, Matti Klenell
In 2002, Iittala expanded beyond glass into other materials with collections that featured home goods, helping to establish Iittala as an international design brand.
The award winning Ruutu vase designed by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec features geometric perfection with its distinct diamond shape. Today, Ruutu is made in both glass and ceramic in a wide array of colours and sizes.
Ruutu, Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec
In the Iittala X Issey Miyake collection, Finnish and Japanese design traditions combine with master craftmanship to create a collection where technical expertise and functionality interweaves with timeless design. The collection features ceramics, glass and textiles.
Iittala X Issey Miyake
The Iittala & Arabia Design Centre, which showcases the past, present and future of both brands, opened in Helsinki in 2016. The Design Lab Gallery hosts exhibitions and workshops.
Raami by Jasper Morrison is a dining collection with carefully composed pieces in ceramic, glass and wood, intended to work together to promote good atmosphere at the table.
Raami, Jasper Morrison
The Iittala Glass Factory was one of the world’s first industrial manufacturers
100 % recycled glass collection
to create items from 100 % waste glass. All clear waste glass and reusable coloured waste glass from the factory is melted and used again for new recycled glass items.
Iittala continues to be a pioneer in timeless Nordic design and expands to services with its Vintage service that buys and re-sells previously owned Iittala items as well as enables people to recycle broken
or worn out glassware and ceramic tableware.
For decades, Iittala has had an established place in the landscape of internationally distinguished design. It will remain faithful to its heritage and respect the qualities that make its design lasting, timeless and treasured from generation to generation.
Even today, most of Iittala’s glass items (like the famous Aalto vase) are made in the very same place where the brand originated in 1881 – the Iittala Glass Factory. By working with creative visionaries, Iittala continues to build on the knowledge handed down from its legendary designers and master craftspeople. Iittala inspires better living.