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Monday, March 7, 2011

Timo Sarpaneva

Timo Sarpaneva (1926-2006) once said, "At the age of eight or nine, I held a piece of ice in my hand until I'd made a hole in it with my warm finger." The Finnish designer's experience was to be recalled in many of his transparent and concave pieces of glass. He worked in metal, wood, textiles and porcelain, but glass is his best-known medium. 

Sarpaneva went to work for Iittala glassworks in 1950 as an independent designer. He created their famous logo, a lower case i in a circle, which they used for the rest of the century.

His Grand Prix from the Milan Triennale in 1954 brought him international acclaim. The series for which he won the prize included Orkidea ("Orchid"), Kajakki ("Kayak"), and Lansetti ("Lancet"), which were produced by Ittala. In 1954, House Beautiful magazine chose his Lancet II vase as "The Most Beautiful Design Object of the Year."  

Sarpaneva was art director for the Pori Puuvilla cotton mill from 1955-1956. He then opened his own studio in 1962 and begain to design for more companies, such as his line of covered casseroles and pans for Rosenløw and his glass designs for Corning in the United States and Venini in Italy.

Both his
Finlandia collection of "bark glass," which was first produced in 1964, and the Festivo series of candleholders (called Senator in the United States) had a rough textured surface resembling snow and ice, which was accomplished by using a mold made of charred wood. They became a huge successes in the 1960s and are still extremely popular today.

From and

Lancet II

Kekkerit glassware

Crocus vase

Finlandia vase
Finlandia bowl

Festivo candleholders


  1. More ice please! I love it! You are always opening my eyes to new things Dana. Mmmmmm I am loving those Festivo candle holders.

  2. Loving these posts on Finnish designers! I feel some national pride bursting. (I'm Finn & Hungaria). The festivo candle holders are amazing. My grandma has a massive collection (please don't kick me - it is the same grandma who has a bird). They are all different heights with these neat globe candles made for them. NEVER used, which is sad. And not up for (my) grabs. I've asked, begged, pleaded.

  3. @RhanVintage: I love the Festivo candle holders too, but my daughter and son-in-law don't think they'd sell in the store. I think they would! And if they didn't, I'd let them follow me home. :)

  4. @Tanya: Your grandmother is my idol, and I worship at her Finnish feet for having such excellent taste. Thinking about having a huge collection of Festivo AND a Toikka bird almost takes my breath away. No wonder you have such great design sense and are so creative, considering the grandparents you have.

  5. Thanks for posting about these. Love the candleholders as well.

  6. @RRandR: I'm going to tell my son-in-law about all of you loving the candleholders. I think I may win the debate about popularity of Festivos! :)