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

Raija Uosikkinen lidded pot

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Vintage Arabia lidded pot designed by Raija Uosikkinen | H is for Home

We’ve selected this gorgeous little item for this week’s favourite buy.

Vintage Arabia lidded pot designed by Raija Uosikkinen | H is for Home

It’s from the Emilia range designed by Raija Uosikkinen for Arabia Pottery of Finland. She worked for the company from the 1960s onwards and produced some wonderful designs. The colourful preserve pots with stylised fruit decoration and the plates depicting the Kalevala legend also spring to mind.

Vintage Arabia lidded pot showing base stamp | H is for Home

This particular piece is a lidded sugar bowl… also perfect for jewellery, keys, loose change – or any small precious thing!

Detail from a  Vintage Arabia lidded pot designed by Raija Uosikkinen | H is for Home

We really don’t come across pieces from this range too often, so it’s lovely to handle them. They’re incredibly detailed, but also have a charming simplicity. Coming to the shop soon!

Charity Vintage: Kaj Franck for Finel mushroom design bowl

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vintage Finel mushroom design bowl by Kaj Frank for sale on eBay for Chrity by & in support of CLIC Sargent(ends 1 May, 2014 15:38:37 BST)

This vintage Finel mushroom design bowl, by Kaj Franck, is up for sale on eBay by & in support of CLIC Sargent*. It’s on at a very reasonable price – buy it now for £44.99 plus there’s free P&P.

We regularly sell Finel enamel items in our web shop. We actually have this very bowl in our own personal collection. We love the black & white mushroom illustration. We’ve only ever seen the enamel bowl (in different sizes), but the design is available on a lidded saucepan, chopping board and even pottery cups, plates and bowls (for Arabia).

*CLIC Sargent is the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people, and their families. They provide clinical, practical and emotional support to help them cope with cancer and get the most out of life. They are there from diagnosis onwards and aim to help the whole family deal with the impact of cancer and its treatment, life after treatment and, in some cases, bereavement.



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!!