Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec – Imperfections @ Iittala & Arabia Design Centre

Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec – Imperfections


Iittala brings the exhibition “Imperfections” by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec to Design Lab Gallery in Iittala & Arabia Design Centre in Helsinki. The exhibition was first seen in Stockholm in February 2020, during Stockholm Design Week. The exhibition reflects the relationship between the perfect and imperfect in nature and design with attention on the charm of the imperfections.

The exhibition is a deep dive into exploring materiality, the process of making glass at a factory where craftsmanship meets mass production and where the material is treasured.

Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec have worked with for almost a decade. In 2015 Iittala introduced Ruutu (‘diamond’ in Finnish), a mouthblown glass vase that takes seven craftsmen & 24 hours to produce in the Iittala Glass Factory. Ruutu vases are an example of Iittala’s unique colour expertise. The vases can be combined to make seamless installations. When combined, the light filters through the vases creating a vibrant watercolour like palette.

“I find perfection extremely boring. The mystery of imperfection creates beauty and charm to an object. The charm is the balance between the perfect and the imperfect. Good objects have a long-lasting charm like a good song that can be enjoyed over and over for the next fifty years.”

Ronan Bouroullec


The exhibition explores the subtle balance between imperfect and perfect. In nature, everything is mass produced. Yet every product is unique with its little imperfections.

In summer 2020 the Ruutu collection was complemented with ceramic vases which have the same simple, symmetrical shape. Ceramic Ruutu vases are hollow casted and finished by hand. A thin layer of enamel gives a feeling of depth as a finishing touch to the material.

Mouthblown art pieces

The exhibition also showcases art pieces by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, including large Ruutu glass vases with a special engraving. The vases come in an impressive size of 500 mm which makes them extremely challenging to produce. Creating a vase of this scale demands the expertise of the most skilled glassblowers at the Iittala Glass Factory. The larger size limits blowers to only blowing a couple of vases within a single workday. The use of wooden molds provides fluidity and a vibrant feel to the mouthblown glass. The vases are created in moss green, copper, rain and clear glass colours.

For the exhibition, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec have also designed bespoke glass flowers.

“We wanted to create glass flowers that were a combination of two opposite materials: delicate glass and rough iron. One is mouthblown to life and the other one is hammered into the desired shape. There is something sensual in both materials although the techniques are completely different.”

Ronan Bouroullec