He first became famous for his organic vase designs for Iittala that resembled flower calyces, mushrooms or ice. These designs were produced from 1947 to the 1960s. Also well-known are his leaf-shaped bowls made of laminated wood. He was a prolific designer, creating glass for Venini and ceramics for Rosenthal, as well as beautiful knives, flatware, lighting, furniture and jewelry.
Wirkkala was named artistic director of the Central School of Industrial Design in 1951, a position he held till 1954. He ten worked in Raymond Loewy's New York design firm from 1955-1956. When he left that position in 1956, he opened his own design studio.
He won numerous international awards for his work, which is displayed in museums around the world, and he was a major influence on Scandinavian design by creating objects that were beautiful as well as functional.
Note: I was surprised to discover that in all these years of blogging, I had apparently neglected to post a biography of Tapio Wirkkala, although I have written about him many times. I'm not quite sure how that happened, but I hope this post gives some valuable background, even if late in coming. Previous posts can be seen here:
Video: Tapio Wirkkala
Tapio Wirkkala for Rosenthal
Not Just Pretty Glass
|Bottles for Venini|
|Rare coffee table|
|Knife and scabbard|