Dezeen Magazine

Art Works by Harri Koskinen for Iittala

Finnish designer Harri Koskinen has created a collection of glassware for Scandinavian design group Iittala, the first in the new Art Works concept range which will be launched in September.


Kohta (above and top image) is a carafe/glass comprising two cylindrical sections of different coloured glass, limited to 100 editions.


The name Kohta (or 'section') refers to a traditional glass manufacturing method which has been adapted by Hakinen and the Nuutajärvi glass blowers to better suit the glass used in Finland.


Uusi Alue (above and two images below) is a development of a piece designed by Koskinen in 2004 and is also limited to 100 editions.


Translated as 'new area', Uusi Alue is a solid piece of glass shaped by hand without the use of moulds, meaning each piece is unique.


Jalusta (below) is a serving pedestal for cakes or pastries.


Pokaali (below) is a goblet requiring two skilled glassblowers working simultaneously to produce and combine the different coloured glass of the bowl, stem and base.


Kippo is a jar with lid, made using the same technique employed to produce the bowl of the Pokaali goblet.


The Alusta tray is a base to compliment both Kippo and Pokaali.


A different designer and team of craftsmen will add to the collection each year.


Here are further details from Iittala:


New concept from Iittala
ART WORKS by Harri Koskinen as the first artist

In September 2009 Iittala is launching its new concept called Art Works. With Art Works Iittala wants to give designers and artists an arena where they can explore the borders of art and design and create a collection of unique works of art, limited editions, and other special items. The first designer invited to use this opportunity is the Finnish Harri Koskinen. Koskinen has now worked together with Iittala glass blowers to put together a unique collection of glass items.


New areas
Harri Koskinen’s first series of art glass was featured in Iittala’s Pro Arte collection in 2000. The first 30 limited edition pieces, called Alue /Area, were rectangular and highly polished all around. The second series, known as Vapaa Alue / Free Area, was born in 2004, and comprised of free-form pieces with a polished base. The designer James Irvine saw them at Iittala’s Helsinki store and acquired one immediately for the Design Anatomy exhibition he was curator for at the Kortrijk Fair. (Above, Kippo)


The Uusi Alue / New Area follows very much the spirit of the previous ones. The simple looking design is a particular challenging one for the glassblower, as the heavy glass must be shaped by hand without the help of any moulds. First the glassblower gathers the glass on to his blowing pipe gradually, shaping and molding it between every blow. When it reaches the right size, he finishes the surface with wet newspaper, again completely by hand. Only the local newspaper, Hämeen Sanomat, can do the job, because it has proved the best for the purpose. (Above, Kippo and Alusta)


When the piece is ready, it is carefully cut from the pipe using special scissors and transferred to an annealing kiln. Only when it has completely cooled can it be polished. The last stage of the process is to etch the inscription and number on the base.


Every Uusi Alue is different and unique:
“What’s fundamental is that they are all solid glass, not hollow. Thick glass is essential for bringing out the optics and the reflections. These pieces crystallize the magic of molten glass for me,” says Harri Koskinen.


Variations on a theme
Koskinen’s Art Works collection gives the appearance of having been born very organically, as if each piece has gradually come of age and then taken up its place in the family. In this sense, it parallels life inside the  glass  factory, where everyone, from those responsible for melting the glass in the furnaces to the people packing the end-products, have their own carefully delineated role to play. Working together as a team, they create the environment needed for masterpieces to see the light of day.


The majestic Pokaali/ Goblet in the collection demonstrates what two glassblowers working together can achieve. Comprising three sections of different colours, Goblets are a celebration of the joy of coloured glass, and are equally at home as competition cups or decorations as drinking glasses. Koskinen explains:


“It was surprisingly difficult to choose the right combinations of colours for this piece, how they work together is critical. Glass colours are never static and change with the light and the angle you look at them. In fact, I would have liked to make prototypes of all the various colour combinations I had in mind!”


Together with many other pieces in Koskinen’s Art Works collection, the Goblets explore the border between the everyday and the decorative, the ordinary and the festive. And does the way we categorize something define how we should react to it anyway?

Finnish touch?
Koskinen has named the cylindrical, two-colour pieces Kohta/ Section. The name refers to the production method which draws on the centuries-old incalmo technique, developed by Italian master glassblowers to create bands of colour. Koskinen’s Kohta design features two cylindrical sections of different-coloured glass fitted into each other, which create a third colour where they join.

This new variation on the ‘incalmo’ technique developed jointly by Harri Koskinen and the glassblowers at Nuutajärvi does not try to mimic the Italian method, which requires its own special type of glass, however.

“Together with the craftsmen at Nuutajärvi, we took a pretty bold approach to adapting the technique, and the end-result is quite distinctive, I think. Although the delicacy of the glass still comes through, the overriding feeling is very solid, almost rough-edged. And this creates an exciting tension.”

Koskinen has enjoyed working with Nuutajärvi blowers and workers:
“I’ve again learnt a lot about glass and working with glass while working on this project. What fascinates me about glass is that you can never completely control how it behaves – even though it always tempts you to try!”

Harri Koskinen received recently, on the 28th of April, the Swedish Torsten and Wanja Söderberg Prize of 2009. With the amount of SEK 1,000,000 it is the largest design prize in the world. The reasoning of the prize committee is worth quoting: “Harri Koskinen is one of the foremost designers now occupied with the task of continuing the Nordic design tradition. His extensive, wide-ranging body of work has a unique, austere design that is consistently expressed with clear Nordic roots in its demands for good function and simplicity of form, as well as in the choice of materials. These elements combine to create lasting value. At the same time as he enjoys successful partnerships with design-intensive companies around the world, he is also participating in the renewal of his homeland’s design industry.”

Uusi Alue / New Area
Hand-crafted limited edition of 1-100/2009
Available in four colours: red, blue, green, and yellow

Kohta / Section
Mouth-blown in a mould, hand-worked and joined, in a limited edition of 1-x, 2009
Two parts, colour combination: red-plum

Jalusta / Pedestal
Mouth-blown in a mould, cold-cut stem
Two colours: clear and grey

Pokaali / Goblet
Mouth-blown in two stages
Four colour combinations: red/grey/black; grey/plum/black; Sevilla orange/sand/red; sand/blue/plum

Kippo kannella / Jar and lid
Mould-blown, moulded and polished lid
Two colour combinations: sand and Sevill orange. Lid: black

Alusta / Base
Moulded glass, polished
Colours: grey and black