The timeless magic of Iittala


Iittala products embody the secret of great design. They don’t have to scream for attention, but they work – for life

Open the kitchen cupboards in any Finnish home and you’re likely to find a design icon in there: Teema mugs by Kaj Franck, classic glassware by Aino Aalto, or the famous Savoy Vase by Alvar Aalto. Design is deeply embedded in the Finnish way of life, and nothing says this better than the ubiquitous presence of Iittala.

Part of the Fiskars Group, the Iittala brand is a design pioneer. Throughout its history, it has embraced an unwavering belief in the byword “there is no beauty without functionality”.

“Our objects are distinctive, combinable and multi-functional. Their lasting design makes them relevant from decade to decade. We believe in timeless Scandinavian design that will never be thrown away,” says Iittala Communications Manager Siru Nori.

“The user decides”

Originally founded as a glassworks in 1881, Iittala has built up its unique identity through collaboration with legends such as Kaj Franck, Timo Sarpaneva, Tapio Wirkkala and Oiva Toikka. The foundations of its design vocabulary were laid over 80 years ago by Aino and Alvar Aalto, who sought to “humanize” Finnish design. Refusing to dictate how their objects should be used, they declared that “the user decides.”

In 1952 the legendary Kaj Franck revolutionized the concept of tableware by abandoning decorative dinner sets in favour of geometrical simplicity. Fusing form and function with a contemporary sensibility, Franck’s Teema tableware still epitomises everything that is quintessentially “Iittala”.

The range is continually updated with input from acclaimed international designers such as Alfredo Häberli, Björn Dahlström and Harri Koskinen. Also Iittala’s Design Director, Koskinen leads a concept team in constant search of new ideas to keep the brand fresh and “now”.

Keeping it fresh

“Fresh and now” is indeed a good epithet for Iittala’s new concept collection of 26 tableware items tailored for the changing eating habits of today. The autumn launch of the new Sarjaton series (ironically meaning ‘no series’ in Finnish) coincides with Helsinki’s year as World Design Capital 2012, in which Iittala is a key partner.

“Sarjaton represents a whole new way of thinking about tableware. We invited six independent Finnish designers, including Harri Koskinen, Aleksi Kuokka, Musuta and Samuji, to create a modern interpretation of Finnish traditions. The collection lets you mix and match pieces to express your mood and personality,” explains Nori.

A cut above the rest

Already a household name throughout Scandinavia, Iittala is slowly but surely expanding its footprint in the US, Asia and Continental markets such as Italy and France. Iittala opened its first shop-in-shop in France at the Printemps department store this autumn.

The popularity of the Iittala brand is growing steadily in Japan, with 18 Iittala stores already established in the Tokyo area and plans under way for further expansion.

Iittala is expanding in tandem with Fiskars, the Fiskars Group’s other key international brand, which is famed throughout the world for its ergonomic garden tools and iconic orange-handled scissors.
Finnair Cargo is proude to partner with these brands and is able to offer an efficient network for air freight shipments to their numerous export destinations around the world.

Text by Silja Kudel

Published September 14, 2012

Category: Collaboration, Local features