Designer Desire: Kaj Franck

Mosaic of Kaj Franck designs | H is for Home

What? We’ve never featured Kaj Franck on Designer Desire before? How did that happen?!

We have some of his designs in our home and in our shop. So far, we own a ‘Muki’ mug decorated with Raija Uosikkinen’s ‘Lintu’ pattern and a large ‘Kulho’ bowl with Esteri Tomula’s ‘Tatti’ mushrooms pattern (6th from top, on the left).

The one design on his wares that I really, really desire is ‘Sydän’, the red hearts on white enamelware range (3rd from top, on the right). This pattern was designed by Gunvor Olin-Grönqvist. I’ve seen it on bowls, plates, kettles, jugs and mugs – but the condition and price has never been right.

Kaj Franck (1911-1989) was one of the leading modernist Finnish designers working in glass, ceramics, enamel and metalware. He was artistic director at Arabia (now Iittala) and produced many of their designs as well as ones for their subsidiary company, Finel. He also designed many pieces for glassware company, Notsjö Nuutajärvi.

After researching Franck’s back catalogue, we realised that there’s a similar scenario to the design collaboration between Cathrineholm designers Grete Prytz Kittelsen and Arne Clausen. One person designed the vessel (which was Franck’s domain) and others, such as Esteri Tomula and Raija Uosikkinen, produced the applied pattern.

Some of his popular ranges – such as Teema crockery, Scandia Cutlery and Kartio glassware – are still being manufactured and are available from the Scandinavian Design Center and Finnish Design Shop. I prefer his more colourful, more interesting vintage designs which are always available on eBay, Etsy, Pamono and Bukowskis.

There’s a book on Franck that I’d love to buy, or failing that, have a flick through entitled Kaj Franck – Muotoilija / Formgivare / Designer, currently on sale at around the £100 mark.

Portrait of Kaj Franckcredit

Additional image credits:
1st Dibs | Bukowskis

Designer Desire: Bjørn Wiinblad

Mosaic of Bjørn Wiinblad designs | H is for Home

We’ve mentioned Bjørn Wiinblad a number of times on our blog in the past but for some reason have never dedicated an entire, detailed post to the man with pictorial examples showing the range of his work. Wiinblad (1918-2006) was primarily a ceramicist; his plates, vases, candle-holders figures et al are decorated with wistful and magical figures. We have a colourful charger from his ‘1001 Nights’ series for Rosenthal which firmly fits this description. He also designed and produced many pieces using other materials such as glass, metal and textiles.

According to the man himself:

It can never be the quantity of a thing that is wrong – it can only be the quality. I put just as much thought, just as many deliberations, and just as great zeal into doing the right thing in my work when I make wrapping paper as I do when I create a decoration for the Royal Ballet.

Some of his designs are still being produced today and can be found on websites such as Connox and Trouva. If his vintage work is more your thing, check out eBay and Etsy.

Portrait of Bjørn Wiinbladcredit

Additional image credits:

1st Dibs

Designer Desire: Bent Gabrielsen

Mosaic of Bent Gabrielsen jewellery | H is for Home

Every week that goes by, I discover yet another brilliant Scandinavian jeweller. Today, it’s multi-award-winning Bent Gabrielsen (1928-2014).

In 1949 in Copenhagen, Gabrielsen completed his gold-smithing apprenticeship. He followed this with a 3-year course at the College of Jewelry, Silversmithing, and Professional Trade Design in the city. He went on immediately to work for Hans Hansen from 1953 as a jewellery designer where he remained until 1969, by which time he’d become responsible for the company’s entire output. After leaving the company, he set up in partnership with his wife under the name, ‘Gabrielsen’s Guldsmedie’.

When he won the Lunning Prize in 1964, Erik Bohr, the Chairman of the Committee commented:

Bent Gabrielsen’s jewelry carries absolute conviction as to its function; his handling of materials is so restrained and well considered that one feels this could hardly be otherwise. His jewelry is simple and clearly constructed, often with links connecting naturally with each other so that the complete piece makes up a beautiful whole. Every single detail of his things is worked out. There are no false effects. He does not take the easy way out.

Here’s a film giving an in-depth look at the maker’s life, work and ethos.

Find available examples of his work on eBay and Etsy.

Portrait of Bent Gabrielsencredit

Additional image credits:

1stDibs | Artnet

Designer Desire: Jorma Laine

Mosaic of Jorma Laine jewellery designs | H is for Home

I was doing a Google search recently for ‘Vintage Scandinavian jewellery’ (as you do!) and stumbled across the work of Jorma Laine – I’m now smitten!

Laine (1930-2002) was a Finnish jewellery designer who worked for Turun Hopea Oy, Kultateollisuus Ky, Kalevala Kory Oy and his own company, Silver-Laine.

He worked mainly in bronze and silver with the occasional use of semi-precious stones such as turquoise, tiger eye, unakite or nephrite. His style was abstract, Modernist – almost Brutalist – with Viking and tribal influences.

I’ve come across lots of stunning examples of his work but below is the only portrait of the man I could find. Perhaps it’s because he apparently spent the final years of his life living as a recluse in a log cabin in the forest of Finland.

As I said, his work is readily available and fairly affordable – from less than £50 for a bronze pendant. Try looking on Etsy and eBay if you’re interested.

Jorma Laine, jewellery designercredit

Additional image credits:

1st Dibs | Bukowskis

Designer Desire: Birger Kaipiainen

Mosaic of Birger Kaipiainen ceramics | H is for Home

We’ve mentioned ceramic designer, Birger Kaipiainen (1915-1988) before on our blog – we have a cup & saucer that he designed for Arabia. A place where he claims he was, “able to grow like a weed”.

Whilst researching this post, I’ve discovered a plethora of brilliant works by him. He produced an impressive mural – 9 x 5 metres – for the 1967 World Exhibition in Montreal entitled, Orvokkimeri (Sea of Violets). Most of his other works are on a much smaller scale; vases, platters, chargers and table and serveware.

Vintage examples of his work can occasionally be found on 1st Dibs, Bukowskis, Etsy and eBay. The Finnish Design Shop sells a few of his designs that are still in production.

There was a book written by Harri Kalha to accompany a 2013 exhibition of Kaipiainen’s work that’s found its way on to my wish list!

Portrait of Birger Kaipiainen

Image credits:

Bukowskis

Designer Desire: Vuokko Nurmesniemi

Mosaic of Vuokko Nurmesniemi designs | H is for Home

This is a Designer Desire post for all you vintage fashion fans! Vuokko Nurmesniemi (born 1930) was one of the two main pattern designers at Marimekko during the 1950s. Her striped Jokapoika (top image) was one of the company’s best sellers.

I just love her big, bold op art designs, many of which are in the New York Met’s permanent collection. Those tent coats and dresses are to die for!

I couldn’t find much of it available online. However, a few sellers on Etsy stock vintage Nurmesniemi-designed Marimekko and her own brand Vuokko Oy pieces.

Portrait of Vuokko Nurmesniemicredit

Additional image credits:

Marimekko | Pinterest