The Icon of Finnish Design Celebrates its 80th Anniversary

The Alvar Aalto vase collection has become an international icon of Finnish design and a much-loved gift for design aesthetes around the world. Each delicate and statuesque vase is skillfully mouth-blown and hand-crafted at the Iittala glassworks in Finland.

Alvar Aalto (1898-1976) is widely considered one of the masters of modern architecture and design. He was a functionalist who developed his unique style by combining rational architecture with a vividly organic idiom. His works are internationally acclaimed and landmark many Finnish towns from the tuberculosis sanatorium of Paimio to the university campus of Jyväskylä, the administrative centre of Seinäjoki town and Finlandia hall in Helsinki, to mention only few. Aalto’s furniture for Artek and the glass vase collection for Iittala are loved by design audiences all around the world.
A true humanist

Aalto’s approach to design included a deeply practical aspect: the design was based on human needs.

“Form is a mystery that eludes definition but that gives people a sense of well-being.”

Alvar Aalto touched upon something special when he created the simplified and free formed vase collection for the Karhula-Iittala competition in 1936. The objects were not only revolutionary in form, freeing the glass from its geometric own will, but they also left the user to decide what the object should be used for.

“Beauty is the harmony of purpose and form.”

The vases were first introduced at the Paris World’s Fair a year later. The fair was a breakthrough for Alvar Aalto in industrial design. There are various interpretations of Aalto’s original idea for free form; for many, the shapes represent the thousands of lakes in Finland, with their winding shorelines.

The most skilled craftsmanship 

Aalto vases are mouth blown every day at Iittala, Finland. It takes 7 craftsmen, 12 work stages, 1100 °C and 10 hours to make a single Aalto vase. The skillful craftsmen of the Iittala glass factory have dedicated themselves to keeping tradition alive; every single Aalto vase is individually made.
The Aalto vase has always been a highly popular gift item. The wide range of forms and colours has provided even the most demanding gift giver with plenty of choices. When you give someone an Aalto product, you can be sure that the gift will hold its value for a lifetime and will be appreciated by the next generation.

Anniversary products

To mark the 80th anniversary of the Aalto Collection, Iittala is launching new products. The key sizes of the range will be available in nostalgic Emerald green. The colour refers to Alvar Aalto’s wife, Aino Aalto. A similar shade was present in the original Aino Aalto collection in 1932.
The plywood Alvar Aalto serving tray in two sizes pays homage to Aalto’s connection to organic forms, materials and nature. The tray makes a serene interior object or a serving platter for fruits.