the moment i landed in helsinki last week i made a beeline straight for arabia, home for the past 140 years to one of my favourite finnish brands: iittala.
the roots of iittala date back to 1881, when a glass factory was established on a village of the same name in southern finland. since its early years iittala have produced blown, pressed, polished, painted and etched glass according to continental models and as the brand has grown they’ve added more and more beautifully functional items for dining and home ambience in a variety of different materials. iittala believe quality, aesthetics and functionality are the most important values to create interior design products that will last a lifetime, and what started as a glass factory now celebrates generations of essential objects that are made to enrich people’s everyday lives.
i’ve been a huge fan of one of iittala’s hero products – aino aalto glass – for a long time. forever modern, this glass series is the oldest of iittala’s products currently in production and has become a household item that is valued for its design and functionality, passed from one generation to another. i’m also a fan of alvar aalto’s famous collection of free-blown glass objects, orginally designed for a competition organised by iittala in 1936, which over the course of several decades have become an international icon of finnish design.
so naturally i was incredibly excited to be given the chance to tour the iittala factory at arabia during my visit, and be given a exclusive glimpse into the wonderful world of iittala…
it was truly fascinating to see the highly skilled production line in action and see ceramics being fired, buffed and polished in a never-ending cycle of precision.
the factory floor was a constant hive of streamlined activity and quality control checks, with any minor defects singled out and seamlessly removed from the production line.
we were even given a glimpse into the creative hub of iittala, where in-house designers work on creating the next generation of designs and patterns.
after the tour we were tasked with creating our very own iittala design, by punching out glazed shapes to decorate a plain white mug. let me tell you, it was so much fun coming up with a design that felt befitting of both iittala’s design ethos and my own blog aesthetic – in the end i played it nice and simple with 3 carefully positioned dots, in yellow of course!
then it was time to hit the outlet shop, which packed to the brim with every iittala design under the sun including factory seconds at a discount price. it was all i could do not to buy the entire shop but since i’d only travelled with hand luggage (major mistake!), i had to settle for some sarpaneva stainless steel coasters and kastehelmi votives in the newest colour palette: rain.
do you have a favourite iittala design? which piece would you choose to start building your collection?
iittala factory & outlet shop, hämeentie 135, 00561, helsinki