A combination of tradition and innovation
Iittala is now announcing a collaboration with Damsel Elysium, a London-based instrumentalist, composer, and experimental sound, visual and performance artist. The collaboration is a concrete step in Iittala's in Iittala's mission to strengthen free creation, testing and experimentation to artisanal glassmaking.
Combining the expertise of the glassblowers with an original artistic vision, can push the boundaries of glass know-how and create completely new kind of objects through which masterpieces of glass art can be born.
"Iittala represents the convergence of art, design, and craftsmanship. Our commitment to innovation and artistic collaboration defines the next chapter for Iittala. We want to invite artists to experiment, play and express their artistic creativity through glass, fostering close partnerships that celebrate the art of glassmaking and provide a platform for emerging talents,” Janni Vepsäläinen, Iittala's creative director, says.
For Damsel Elysium, the collaboration with Iittala marks a new venture into the realm of glass art. In partnership with Janni Vepsäläinen and the master glass blowers at the Iittala Glass Factory, they created a series of unique mouth-blown and handcrafted glass instruments and objects that embody a synesthetic exploration of sound, sight, and colour.
Unique, handcrafted glass instruments and objects
“I'm a multi-instrumentalist and composer. In this collaboration with Iittala, using glass as the medium, it felt natural to create beautiful and functional instruments. All of the glass objects in this series can be played, either with a bow, breath, or percussion. Some also function as listening devices, revealing a different world when placed to the ear,” says Damsel Elysium. Making music and crafting these glass objects shared a commonality for me – the elements of improvisation and experimentation.”
The collection includes various horns, bells, and bottles with organic shapes. The objects vary in size, ranging from almost two meters long for the largest to about 20 cm high for the smallest. They come in several colours, including light lilac, peachy pink, red and clear. Some objects are free-blown, while others are shaped using a mould.
Showpieces expressing a playful mindset
"For me, shape, colour, form, and sound are interconnected. When I hear something really loud I can feel the shape of it. Communicating in alternative ways and conveying something new are important to my artistic expression. Working with glass in these amazing colours to create an instrument that can be played was a dream. I could see the sounds when I saw the glass being formed", describes Damsel Elysium.
Formed by the master glassblowers of Iittala
Glassblowing is both industrial production and art. The Iittala Glass Factory encourages and supports its craftspeople in their artistic experiments by allowing them to use the factory’s furnaces to work on their own artistic projects. Free expression and art projects support the glassblowers’ professional growth. Like in this particular collaboration, which let glassblowers test their skills and enhance their expertise.
"I have worked as a glassblower for 28 years this year. Mastery of glass is an ongoing process, and there's always something new to learn, adding to the fascination of the material,” explains Tero Välimaa, one of Iittala’s master glassblowers. “In this collaboration, we produced a diverse array of objects through improvisation and experimentation. Many of the objects were challenging, and the project again provided new insights into the nature of glass."
The art pieces were exhibited for the first time at an Iittala event in Stockholm on February 5th, 2024, where Damsel Elysium also performed and used the items as instruments to create sound. They crafted a soundscape for the event, recording it while working in the Iittala village. The soundscape draws inspiration from glass, glassblowing, and the surroundings of the Iittala Glass Factory.
Six unique pieces will be available for purchase at the Iittala Esplanadi Flagship Store in Helsinki starting from March 2024.