Wirkkala's works range from exlusive creations of art glass to mass-produced everyday objects, from unique pieces to beer bottles, incandescent lamps and banknotes.
Tapio Wirkkala was without doubt a designer whose works broke down the boundaries between the arts and crafts and the visual arts. He was also a charismatic and encouraging teacher and he created an impressive oeuvre in a wide range of materilals produced in many different countries.
Where a common language was lacking, Wirkkalal communicated with his pen, drawing for example, designs on the floor of a glasshouse in murano, Italy. He drew continuously, but also worked with a Finnish 'puukko' knife, especially preferring to carve bobbin-shaped long-legged birds.
"The artist gets his fulfillment in the shape he has achieved and in overcoming the technical problems involved."

"All materials have their own unwritten laws. This is forgotten far too often. You should never be violent with a material you're working on, and the designer should aim at being in harmony with his material."

Tapio Wirkkala designed dozens of cutlery series, most of which have never been produced. He developed and tested the designs in wooden prototypes and then in the proper material before working out the final drawings. Other than making glassware and stoneware, Wirkkala also designed jewellery and sculptures.
It is not without a reason that Ultima Thule is one of Finland's most successful glass series of all times. The old term "ultima Thule" meant the most northern, most demanding and at the same time most venerated place in the world. Tapio Wirkkala was directly inspired but the Arctic mystique, Finland's wintry landscape and glassclear ice.

Originally trained as sculptor, Tapio Wirkkala was to give Finnish art glass a completely new dimension, with massive works such as crystal blocks, "ice" sculptures and his renowed Chantarelle pieces, which are highly priced at international art auctions. For the finnish pavilion at Expo 67 in Montreal, Wirkkala prepared a 9 -metre-long sculpture in aircraft plywood with a Lapp stream rushing forth in the middle.

Studies

1936 Institute of Industrial Arts, Helsinki

Prizes and awards
The bank of Finland
Milano triennale Italy 1951, 1954, 1960 and 1963
Lunning prize 1951
House Beautiful, USA 1951
World Fair in Brussels, Belgium 1957
Society of Industrial Arts, England 1958
Museum of Contemporary Crafts, USA 1960
The International Badische Ainilin und Sodafabrik; Germany
The Golden Obelisk, Domus Italia 1963
Faenze Italy 1963, 1966, 1967, 1969 and 1973
Vicenza, Italy 1963, 1966 and 1967
Suomen kulttuurirahasto 1968
TEOSTO 1980
Prince Eugen's Medal, Sweden 1980

Memberships of honor
Honorary Royal Designer of Industry, London, England 1964
Chairman of the goverment's Committee for Industrial Arts 1968-1973
Royal College of Arts, doctor honoris causa, London England 1971
Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, honorary memebership, London England 1971
Academician 1972

Areas of activity
Glass and ceramic art, silver art, fair architecture, sculptures and industrial design.

 

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