Designer Desire: Ristomatti Ratia

Mosaic of Ristomatti Ratia designs | H is for Home

Last week, we blogged about a couple of vintage Palaset storage boxes we put into our shop. Today, we’re featuring their designer, Ristomatti Ratia.

By all accounts, he has so far led a very colourful life. He’s been married numerous times, had a challenging relationship with his mother and had even appeared on the Finnish version of Dancing with the Stars.

He has, however, found the time to design all manner of products in his 50-year career. From clothing, spectacles, jewellery, glassware, cutlery and bedding to a free-standing fire and even a boat-shaped coffin and urn for ashes!

He’s best known for a couple of his early designs; firstly, his 301 shoulder bag (shown above in green) for his parents’ company, Marimekko. The other is the aforementioned, award-winning Palaset modular storage system – the LP units are especially sought after by vintage vinyl junkies. I discovered today that the ever forward-thinking Sir Terence Conran stocked Palaset in his Habitat shops in the 1970s. The image of the beanbag-seated lady is taken from a vintage Habitat catalogue.

His contemporary designs are readily available from the Finnish Design Shop and the Ratia Shop. His vintage designs pop up from time to time on 1st Dibs, eBay and Etsy.

Ristomatti Ratia has, as one might expect, a beautifully furnished home. You can take a house tour here.

Portrait of Ristomatti Ratia

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Additional image credits:

70 Luvulta | Flickr | Mundadaa | Why not 2nd Cycle

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Designer Desire: Björn Weckström

Mosaic of Björn Weckström designs | H is for Home

I just love chunky, modernist, almost brutalist Scandinavian jewellery and when I discovered the work of Björn Weckström it went straight into top spot on my wish list.

Weckström (born 1935) is a fine artist and sculptor but it is for his jewellery that he’s probably best known. His work is often inspired by ancient Greek mythology, nature and the landscapes of Lapland.

He’s a prolific maker – primarily for Finnish company, Lapponia – so examples of his work are readily available from outlets such as Bukowskis, eBay, Etsy. His pieces are mainly crafted from 18 carat gold, sterling silver, precious stones and pearls so they’re not going to be cheap. They’re individual, heirloom pieces – in my opinion, very much worth the investment.

A necklace entitled, ‘Planetoid Valleys’ and the ‘Darina’s Bracelet’, both designed by Weckström for Lapponia was worn by Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) in the closing scene in 1977’s Star Wars film.

Weckström has said of his work and the wearer’s relationship to it:

A piece of jewelry is a miniature sculpture with the human body in the background. When I first began in the early 1960s, I wanted to turn jewelry design into small-scale form of art and raise its profile on a par with that of modern sculpting. Naturally matt gold soon became my trademark. Wearers of my jewelry relate personally to it. Some think jewelry is art, others think it is an intriguing complement to their personality or a fascinating conversation piece. Some think that it is quite simply beautiful.

Björn Weckströmcredit

Additional image credits:

1st Dibs | Artnet

Designer Desire: Alvar Aalto

Mosaic of Alvar Aalto designs | H is for Home

We think this might be the first time we’ve featured a designer who is also an accomplished architect. Alvar Aalto (1898-1976) was a Finnish product designer who worked in furniture, textiles, glass and lighting.

He designed many buildings that are located all over the world  and include churches, museums, hospitals, private homes, a sanatorium, a library and an event venue.

Many of his products are still in production today. We’ve linked to a couple of the places you can find them below.

Alvar Aaltocredit

Image credits:

Aram | Arch Daily | Finnish Design Shop

Riihimaen collection

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collection of green vintage Riihimaen glass vases

We often speak of living with things for a while before they reach our shop – and this is a case in point. We steadily added glass vases to the windowsill on our landing over recent years, building up quite a collection. We’ve enjoyed looking at them each time we passed – the natural light enhancing the gorgeous olive green colourway & highlighting the different shapes… but now it’s time to let them go. Here they are pictured sitting atop a 1960s teak bookcase in our Picture House Antiques space – they look great grouped together.

detail of collection of green vintage Riihimaen glass vases

They’re all produced by Finnish glass company Riihimäki in the 1960s. For the sake of accuracy, we should attribute them to Riihimäen Lasi Oy as the company was renamed in the late 1930s, but they’re still often referred to as Riihimäki vases. The company had some very notable designers such as Aimo Okkolin, Timo Sarpaneva, Helena Tynell, Nanny Still, Tamara Aladin and Erkkitapio Siiroinen.

We’ve got them priced up between £15 & £35… and of course we’ve started a new windowsill collection!!

Fine Finel Find!

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detailed view of red, vintage Finel enamel mug decorated with repeating bird pattern | H is for Home

Perhaps ‘find’ is too strong a word – more a patient track down. We’ve long coveted this particular enamel mug designed by Kaj Franck for Finel.

red, vintage Finel enamel mug decorated with repeating bird pattern

We’ve been holding out for a really good example, in pristine condition. Our wait ended this week when we won the bidding on a well-known auction website. We just love the stylised birds and fiery colours – it really is a stunner!

view of the base of a red, vintage Finel enamel mug decorated with repeating bird pattern

Finel is responsible for some fantastic pieces of enamelware.

red, vintage Finel enamel kettle

Great designers such as the aforementioned Kaj Franck, Seppo Mallat and Antti Nurmesniemi worked for the company.

detailed view of a red, vintage Finel enamel kettle

Their pieces are decorative, functional & well made.

large, vintage Finel enamel bowl decorated with mushroom pattern

We have quite a few pieces dotted around the house including cups, teapots & bowls.

detailed view of a large, vintage Finel enamel bowl decorated with mushroom pattern

This bowl is decorated with a fabulous mushroom design. It was probably intended for the kitchen or dining table, but ours seems to have adopted the role of tea light storage container!

collection of blue vintage Finel enamel bowl decorated with circles in a square pattern

We also like to keep examples for sale in the shop. We currently have one of the teapot/kettles shown above. Also, this lovely set of bowls – perfect for serving starters, salads, curries, desserts – anything really! It consists of one large bowl with the geometric circle/grid design and six smaller bowls in the same vibrant blue.

detailed view of a collection of blue vintage Finel enamel bowl decorated with circles in a square pattern
One more design that still eludes us is the repeating red & white heart shape one – but we’re keeping our eyes peeled!

It’s a date!

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detail from a 1979 Arabia Kalevala date plate designed by Raija Uosikkinen

Any of you vintage fans born in 1979?  This could be the perfect thing for you.

detail from a 1979 Arabia Kalevala date plate designed by Raija Uosikkinen

It’s one of a series of ceramic date plates produced annually by Arabia of Finland.

detail from a 1979 Arabia Kalevala date plate designed by Raija Uosikkinen

Designed by Raija Uosikkinen, they take their inspiration from the Kalevala – the epic national saga of Finland.

Here’s an extract from the English translation of Rune 33 from which this plate draws its reference:

From a tree the raven answered:
“O thou little silver buckle,
Only son of old Kalervo,
Why art thou in evil humor,
Wherefore sad in thy demeanor?
Take a young shoot from the thicket,
Take a birch-rod from the valley,
Drive thy herd across the lowlands,
Through the quicksands of the marshes;
To the wolves let one half wander,
To the bear-dens, lead the other;
Sing the forest wolves together,
Sing the bears down from the mountains,
Call the wolves thy little children,
And the bears thy standard-bearers;
Drive them like a cow-herd homeward,
Drive them home like spotted cattle,
Drive them to thy master’s milk-yards;
Thus thou wilt repay the hostess
For her malice and derision.”

detail from a 1979 Arabia Kalevala date plate designed by Raija Uosikkinen

You don’t have to be born in 1979… they were made from the mid 1970s to the late 1990s. That gives a good span of potentially significant years – birthdays, anniversaries etc.

And don’t mind if there isn’t a special date to be marked… the artwork is so fabulous, they’re covetable for the patterns alone.

1979 Arabia Kalevala date plate designed by Raija Uosikkinen

Having said that, there’s sure to be a few completists out there who are just going to have to have the full set – and we wouldn’t blame you!!