Riga This Week - FREE RIGA CITY GUIDE made by locals since 1992

Tapio Wirkkala. Poetry in Glass, Porcelain and Silver

An exhibition of works of the outstanding Finnish designer Tapio Wirkkala “Poetry in Glass, Porcelain and Silver” will be on view at the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design in Riga (10/20 Skārņu Street) from 13 October to 5 December 2017. In 2017 the Republic of Finland celebrates the centenary of its independence. To mark this event, the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design (Riga) in collaboration with the Finnish Glass Museum (Riihimäki) and the Embassy of the Republic of Finland in Latvia organises an extensive exhibition dedicated to the work of the classic of Finnish design, Tapio Wirkkala (1915–1985). Tapio Wirkkala is an icon of Finnish design, who has influenced several generations of artists not only in Finland but also abroad. The exhibition presents the first opportunity in Latvia to see the broad range of the master’s works from the Glass Museum and the private collection of Kyösti Kakkonen.

Tapio Wirkkala is one of the most important and versatile Finnish designers and architects. In his works he has always striven to demonstrate the beauty and distinct uniqueness of his native land. In Finland he is considered synonymous with Finnish modern design and counted among the key figures of modern design in the field of industrial design. The artist’s oeuvre is very broad – ranging from plastic ketchup bottles and metal art to glass and porcelain objects as well as furniture designed from plywood. Since the 1950s, the artist also worked in the field of sculpture, creating various innovative abstract objects from plywood. Tapio Wirkkala also is the author of the 1955 series of banknotes of the Finnish markka.

The artist’s creativity found expression in different fields – both creating works for exhibitions and taking industrial design commissions. He took part and earned recognition in countless international exhibitions, including the prominent Milan Triennials.

The exposition at the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design focuses on the master’s outstanding achievements in glass art, porcelain and silver. The visitors will see around 500 objects designed by Tapio Wirkkala, created over the 1940s–80s for manufacturers Iittala (glass) and Kultakeskus Oy (silver) in Finland as well as the Rosenthal factory (porcelain and glass) in Germany.

Tapio Wirkkala had a lasting collaboration with glass manufacturer Iittala, where his most popular designs were the bottle for Finlandia vodka (1970–2000), the Ultima Thule range of glassware (made in 1968 as a commission for Finnair), the Chantarelle vase (1947), the Ovalis vase (1958), the Tapio series of glassware and others. At the same time, the artist worked on important international commissions. In the middle of the 60s, he made outstanding contributions for the glass manufacturer Venini in Italy, creating a collection for the 1966 Venice Art Biennial. Outside of Finland, Tapio Wirkkala’s most important work was for the Rosenthal factory in Germany over the period of almost 30 years. Elegant porcelain objects were produced in this collaboration, which we will see in the exhibition, as well as one of the most popular factory’s products so far – the Paper Bag vase (1977).

Latvian National Museum of Art, Museum of Decorative Arts and Design,
Embassy of the Republic of Finland in Latvia, Finnish Glass Museum (Riihimäki),
the private collection of Kyösti Kakkonen, Tapio Wirkkala Foundation

Uta Laurén, Chief Curator of the Finnish Glass Museum (Riihimäki)

Velta Raudzepa, Collection Manager of the Museum of Decorative Arts and Design /
Latvian National Museum of Art (Riga)