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.
Aram | Arch Daily | Finnish Design Shop
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.
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!!
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.
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!
Finel is responsible for some fantastic pieces of enamelware.
Great designers such as the aforementioned Kaj Franck, Seppo Mallat and Antti Nurmesniemi worked for the company.
Their pieces are decorative, functional & well made.
We have quite a few pieces dotted around the house including cups, teapots & bowls.
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!
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.
One more design that still eludes us is the repeating red & white heart shape one – but we’re keeping our eyes peeled!
Any of you vintage fans born in 1979? This could be the perfect thing for you.
It’s one of a series of ceramic date plates produced annually by Arabia of Finland.
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.”
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.
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!!
In our last blog we were musing over the influence of nature on artists & designers. Also how nature has been interpreted in book illustrations etc. We randomly began with ‘fish’ as a sub-theme, we’re going to continue, equally randomly, with ‘birds’.
1960s Irish linen tea towel
kitchen storage jar
The items featured are again predominantly vintage finds from the 1950s, 60s & 70s. They include artworks, books and domestic wares.
1960s Wedgewood glass birds
Check out the fantastic bird series produced for Iittala by the Finnish glass designer, Oiva Toikka started in 1973. They’re still being made today having amassed a range of over 300 designs.
John Clappison designs for Hornsea Pottery – mugs & hen ashtray
Mexican pin dish
1950s cocktail tray
We’re really pleased with this recent biscuit tin acquisition, picked up in a mixed box at a nearby auction.
fantastic 1950s graphics
Mid century books can be a rich source of high quality, period illustrations.
We dipped into our vintage cookery book collection again and came out with some little gems.
collection of 1950s Stork margarine recipe booklets
Bill Charmatz illustrations
Esquire Cook Book front cover. First published in 1956
Charley Harper illustrations
We hope you’ve enjoyed looking at our avian delights. Stay tuned for flowers, foliage, landscapes and much more!