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Tapio Wirkkala

Tapio Wirkkala (Finland, 1915–85)
Tapio Wirkkala (Finland, 1915–85)

Along with architect Alvar Aalto, the designer Tapio Wirkkala was Finland’s leading contributor to the Scandinavian interpretation of modernism in the mid-20th century. Prolific and innovative, Wirkkala excelled in a wide range of fields, including glass, furniture, porcelain, jewelry and tableware. The hallmark of his talent was an ability to impart a craft aesthetic based on natural forms — leaves, ice, bubbles, birds — to industrially produced designs.

A native of Helsinki, Wirkkala studied at the national School of Applied Arts and took up a career in graphic design. After serving in the Finnish army during World War II, he joined the glassmaking firm Iittala, an association that would continue to the end of his life. Wirkkala learned every aspect of glassmaking in keeping with his belief that an artist-designer should be involved in all stages of production. His best-known works for Iittala are vases and drinking vessels that resemble either carved ice or icicles. In 1956, Wirkkala began a long relationship with the porcelain maker Rosenthal, for whom he designed elegant table pieces, such as the Finlandia coffee service and the biomorphic Pollo vases. 

House Beautiful magazine declared Wirkkala’s Leaf platter the “most beautiful object” of 1951. (The acclaim led to his brief employment stint with industrial designer Raymond Loewy in New York.) That platter was one of the first designs Wirkkala made using laminated sheets of plywood sanded to a smooth surface that resembles an abstract leaf. It would go on to become a motif in many Wirkkala furniture pieces — most notably in inlaid coffee tables for Asko — and in a sense these are the works most emblematic of his personal aesthetic. Wirkkala was a traditionalist in many ways, but he had a modernist’s practical approach, incorporating his leaf-like spirals into simple, functional objects. That is the core attraction of Wirkkala’s designs: They stand out with a striking, sculptural energy yet blend in as part of a warm and comfortable decor.

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Creator:Tapio Wirkkala
Dealer:Sam Kaufman Gallery
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Hourglass by Tapio Wirkkala
By Tapio Wirkkala
Located in Los Angeles, CA
In the mid-1960s a small number of these exquisite hourglass cubes -- designed by Finnish design legend Tapio Wirkkala -- were made with great precision of clear acrylic and white sa...
Category

1960s Finnish Scandinavian Modern Vintage Tapio Wirkkala

Materials

Acrylic

Molded Plywood Trays by Tapio Wirkkala
By Tapio Wirkkala
Located in Los Angeles, CA
Category

1950s Finnish Scandinavian Modern Vintage Tapio Wirkkala

Materials

Plywood

Pendant Lamp by Tapio Wirkkala
By Tapio Wirkkala
Located in Los Angeles, CA
Category

1950s Finnish Vintage Tapio Wirkkala

Materials

Glass

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Drawing by Wilhelm Kage
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Faïence Vase by Stig Lindberg
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Horse Figure by Lisa Larson
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"Farsta" Vase by Wilhelm Kåge
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Stool by Lisa Johansson-Pape
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Pine

"Comedia" Textile by Stig Lindberg
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Previously Available Items
Coffee Table with Inlaid Decoration by Tapio Wirkkala
By Tapio Wirkkala
Located in Los Angeles, CA
Tapio Wirkkala (Finnish, 1915-1985) was the consummate form-giver of the middle of the 20th century. He tried his craggy artisan's hand at every possible type of design project, with...
Category

1950s Finnish Scandinavian Modern Vintage Tapio Wirkkala

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Steel

Carved Plywood "Leaf" Bowl by Tapio Wirkkala
By Tapio Wirkkala
Located in Los Angeles, CA
Inspired by a visit to factory where high-speed airplane propellers were made from blocks of finely laminated birch plywood, Finnish design giant Tapio Wirkkala adapted the labor-int...
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1950s Finnish Vintage Tapio Wirkkala

Molded Plywood Tray by Tapio Wirkkala
By Tapio Wirkkala
Located in Los Angeles, CA
A Fincraft molded plywood tray, designed in the 1950s by Tapio Wirkkala for Soinne et Kni, Helsinki. Soinne was the same company which produced the famous sculptural dishes and bowls...
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1950s Finnish Vintage Tapio Wirkkala

Boxed Drinks Set by Tapio Wirkkala
By Tapio Wirkkala
Located in Los Angeles, CA
A lovely decanter, carefully boxed with a pair of small glasses, made by Iitala from 1966 until 1973. The high quality of the fitted box makes this set a fine gift. In as-new conditi...
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1960s Finnish Scandinavian Modern Vintage Tapio Wirkkala

Materials

Steel

"Porcelaine Noire" Teapot by Tapio Wirkkala
By Tapio Wirkkala, Rosenthal
Located in Los Angeles, CA
Produced in Germany by Rosenthal from 1963 until 1975 in matte black porcelain (with high gloss to the top of the lid), with a handle of teak and silver-plated brass, this exquisite ...
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1960s German Scandinavian Modern Vintage Tapio Wirkkala

Materials

Porcelain

  • "Porcelaine Noire" Teapot by Tapio Wirkkala
  • "Porcelaine Noire" Teapot by Tapio Wirkkala
  • "Porcelaine Noire" Teapot by Tapio Wirkkala
  • "Porcelaine Noire" Teapot by Tapio Wirkkala
H 6.25 in. Dm 5.25 in. L 6.25 in.

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