DANIELE VENDRAME HISTORY OF DESIGN / 3 ECTS / ULLA SEPPÄLÄ-KAVEN
FINNISH / VENETIAN GLASS
1 Introduction The art of glass making has many times, since the birth of design as we know it today, intertwined with its paradigms in different ways1. Mass production of glassware started only at the beginning of the 20th century, when Michael Owens invented the first blowing machine to produce bottles. Nevertheless glass making is one of the oldest known manufactures and it is based on many centuries of hand crafting practice, before the arrival of the industrialization. Therefore is inevitable that this particular discipline is continuing still nowadays in its most traditional way, although with some seesawing periods of crisis. For this reason, and for some emotional bond with my homeland, the focus of this brief research is almost exclusively on hand crafted glass and art glass. This kind of products can be considered external to the design discipline but also it cannot be considered exclusively art because of the function that these objects acquire. Therefore, in the most cases, we can talk of applied art. There are of course some exceptions that are not negligible. In fact, as we will see further down, these exceptions may represent the main differences between Finnish and Venetian glass design. The most relevant thing to be noticed regarding glass design is that, in many design cultures, the approach to glass art is somehow a necessary step for many designers. Moreover, it sometimes represents not only a step during a designer career but also a constant way of inspecting the potentiality of matter and experimenting new objects which has positive consequences on the development of the individual design method. Furthermore, this relationship implies a good sustenance to the traditional glass making culture, which nowadays is risking to disappear. Glass design in Venice Murano glass has been known since the fifteenth century for its majestic beauty and insuperable quality. For many centuries it was considered the only glassware destined to European courts. Despite this, however, some other glassworks were providing glassware to nobility, especially in the central Europe; nevertheless the glass they produced was mainly à la façon de Venise, which means blown on the model of Murano glass. The main reason for which Murano glass was considered matchless has to be found in the craftsmen mastery of the glasshouses. Their technique, refined during the Middle Ages, was almost unique. In fact, Murano workmanship was able to blow complex and at the same time fine and light glassware without any mould or cast but only freehand modelling the incandescent glass freshly drawn from the furnace, which can be considered «the connatural principle of Venetian glass making.»2 During the eighteenth century, the prominent success of Bohemian crystal was source of worries for the future of the Murano glassblowers.They started to question if the tradition could withstand the inevitable renewal of the ethic and aesthetic values. The situation worsened at the end of the century, when the Venetian Republic fell, in 1797. The following period was of course a depressing moment for all the Venetian culture. In the second half of the century, after some weak attempts to raise again the glass making craftsmanship, finally, in 1859, Antonio Salviati established a new company (Salviati & C.) and decided to look back to the past traditions: this were mainly ascribable to the Roman glassware, the luxurious products of Muranese glass in the seventeenth century and the German and French new trends. It was 1 the design paradigms as intended by R. De Fusco are: design, production, sale and consume. For a clearer explanation cf. Renato De Fusco, Storia del design, Laterza, Bari, 201316 2 Helmut Ricke, “The Venetian Legacy and the Foundations of a New Glassmaking Tradition: Venini 1921-1942“, in Venini: Catalogue Raisonné 1921-1986, ed. Anna Venini Diaz de Santillana, Skira, Milan, 2000, p. 9
2 a success, also thanks to engagement of some Venetian artists like Vincenzo Moretti, Barovier brothers and Antonio Seguso who rediscovered old techniques such as the mosaic. The new company gathered a great success in 1867, when some of their products were awarded at the Universal Exposition in Paris. However this success did not last much after the turn of the century because the new artistic tensions developing north of the Alps were defining once again the cultural trends of the period. Therefore, many glasshouses started to hire artists who were in contact with the Art Nouveau and the Austrian and German Werkbund, such as Vittorio Zecchin and Teodoro Wolf Ferrari. Predictably, after the First World War glassworks faced a deep crisis. However the first reconstruction impulses were successfully gathered by the Milanese Paolo Venini, who was very little acquainted in glass making but was nonetheless a capable business man and art lover. He started a new company, together with Giacomo Cappellin and the artist Vittorio Zecchin. He set a simple artistic program which was based on a renovated poetics of the shapes, still referring firmly to the old tradition of the freehand glassblowing. The results were lightweight and harmonic shapes of irreproachable elegance. In 1926 the company split and Vittorio Zecchin left the Cappelin furnace soon, so came a new artistic director: the young architect Carlo Scarpa. The choice of having a variety of competences and perspective in the direction of the glassworks led also Venini to hire a sculptor, Napoleone Martinuzzi. This was the first of a series of profitable collaborations which were a distinctive mark of Venini’s openness to innovation and research. Martinuzzi, during the 20s, introduced new techniques, partially reclaimed from old ones, such as the filigrana technique and pulegoso opaque glass, which was very peculiar because of the spongy aspects due to the countless air bubbles trapped in it. This new innovative technique raised some critics, which, backing the traditional vocation of Murano glass making, were adverse to the non-lightness and opacity of this kind of glass. However in the following years, opaque glass revealed to be the most interesting material to the eyes of many artists. Furthermore, Carlo Scarpa during his work at Cappellin glasshouse, and later for Venini & C., experimented on new techniques involving opaque glass and rediscovering old techniques in a personal interpretation: he added gold and silver leaf to the lattimi, he used the murrina technique in a modern geometrical way, he invented the sommersi technique and other characterizations of the surface which intentionally «[...] change the nature of glass...»3. Beside Scarpa’s inventions, Ercole Barovier also brought a renewing contribution to the glass art with several techniques such as colorazione a caldo senza fusione (“hot-made colouring without melting”). Paolo Venini and Ercole Barovier works were many times presented in Venice biennials, especially from 1932 when the Biennale opened to decorative arts, receiving many good comments by art critics and from renowned magazines such as Domus, directed by Giò Ponti, and La Casa Bella (later Casabella). Moreover, they continued to produce glass art during the Second World War, exhibiting some remarkable works at the 7th Triennale of Milan, in 1940. Later, after the war, glassworks in Venice continued their collaboration with many promising artists like Flavio Poli, Dino Martens and Fulvio Bianconi. Also the famous designer Massimo Vignelli collaborated with Venini for several years and designed a series called 4000 which included the famous lamp Fungo. Other two important glass makers were Alfredo Barbini, ideal descendant of Napoleone Martinuzzi, and Archimede Seguso, who distinguished himself for adopting merletto technique for his vessels during the 60s. Ercole Barovier continued strenuously with significant innovations. 3 I added the brackets to turn the dissenting words [«do not change...»] by Carlo Alberto Felice in Dedalo (1930, fasc. V, quoted in Marino Barovier, “The Art of Muranese Glass”, in Marino Barovier et al., Venetian Glass: 20th Century Italian Glass. The Nancy Olnick and Giorgio Spanu Collection, Charta, Milan, 2000, p. 17) to our cause, to give a hint about the academic environment of the period
3 Starting from the late 60s a new tendency arose: a progressive abandon of the multicoloured glass to prefer a single coloured glass, often transparent. Despite this was the international styling trend of the new products, it was rather hard to face the underuse of traditional skills and techniques. For instance, in Venini & C. glassworks, once Ludovico Diaz de Santillana (Paolo Venini’s stepchild) became director, he remained faithful to the multicoloured tradition of Murano. Moreover he continued the collaboration with some of the greatest Italian and foreign designers, renewing the collaboration with Vignelli and involving new other designers such as Tobia Scarpa (Carlo’s son), the American Thomas Stearns, Toni Zuccheri and Tapio Wirkkala. From the 70s, until nowadays Venini & C. is constantly searching to start new collaborations with worldwide talented designers. The American Studio Glass Movement have had a great relevance because it provided a series of fruitful collaboration for Murano and still nowadays they are strictly working in harmony. Some of the artists belonging to the American Movement are: Tina Marie Aufiero, Dale Chihuly, James Carpenter, Dan Dailey, Marvin Lipfsky, Richard Marquis, Benjamin Moore, John Milner, Michael Nourot, William Prindle and Toots Zynsky. Murano glass, especially in the last 20 years, has been inspiring for many young artists from all over the World which are curious to experiment with this unique matter and tradition to express their art. Beside the Italians Lino Tagliapietra and Cristiano Bianchin (and many others, including Sottsass, Mendini, Fuksas couple, Bellini and Novembre), there are Laura Diaz de Santillana, Yoichi Ohira, Tadao Ando, Ingo Maurer, Simon Moore, Herri Koskinen and many others4. Glass design in Finland Glass manufacture in Finland is known to be rather recent, compared with main European glass making centres. However some glassware found in Finland is attested to be older than 400 years but is almost surely glassware produced outside Finland and imported during the Middle Ages trades, presumably by German merchants. Despite the first recorded glass factory was founded in 1681, in Uusikaupunki — which soon after burnt down deleting almost every trace of its production5 — the most important glass manufacture plant is known to be the one established at Nuutajärvi, in the parish of Urjala, in 1793. It was founded by Captain Jacob Wilhem Depont and Secretary Harald Furuhjelm. Depont’s father, Jacob Reinhold Depont, in 1748 established the Åvik glass factory in SomeroTammela area which lasted until 1833. For this reason Depont was already acquainted with glass making. The two partners agreed on the glass factory plan: they decided it was logical to produce glass for the Baltic area, especially for windows. In fact the architectural trend of the time was requiring larger glass surfaces, often double-glazed. Moreover, the granting of the general right to distil spirits increased the need for bottles. The first decades production was characterized by using local raw materials. For this reason the glass produced was rather greenish and imperfect but still functional to be used for windows and bottles. Only after a few decades it was possible to produce clear glass, using quartz sand, imported from foreign countries. In 1795 Depont resigned from the army and later decided to sell its assets in Nuutajärvi, which were bought by Harald Furuhjelm’s youngest brother Johan.The two brothers started to enlarge the factory, hiring more glass blowers, reaching the number of seven in 1806. Despite a fire that destroyed the whole glasshouse, at the end of the century, the company continued 4 For a more comprehensive list of the recent collaborations of the Venetian glasshouses I refer you to the websites: www.salviati.com/designers/ and venini.com/en/authors/ 5 from the abstract of: Aulis J. Alanen, “The Finnish Glass Industry”, in Scandinavian Economic History Review, Volume 1, Issue 2, 1953, Scandinavian Society for Economic and Social History and Historical Geography, Stockholm, 1953-present. www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03585522.1953.10410063
4 its work, rebuilding the factory which included twelve furnaces for different functions. The furnaces were fuelled by the firewood from the surrounding forests included in the estate. After the Finnish war, Nuutajärvi glasshouse continued its production of window glass and small bottles, dealing with the local domestic market. The glasshouse counted on a independent salesmen network who travelled along Finland. This kind of distribution was rather efficient so that Nuutajärvi did not need its own shop. When Furuhjelm died, in 1840, the factory passed to his son Otto, an official in the Russian administration who incurred in many debts. Therefore the factory was sold to the Professor Johan Agapetus Törngren who leased it to the master glassblower Alexander Faller. The new director decided to expand the melting furnace, reaching eight crucibles; three workshops were destined for window glass and two to medicine bottles. After a very profitable year, Faller decided to improve the production system, so far more similar to a handicraft workshop than a real industrial plant. Under the Törngren direction, the estate started to be managed rationally, with a systematic cultivation of the forest and fields. He also travelled in Central Europe to visit the main glass industry centres. His main goal was to produce economic everyday glassware and make Nuutajärvi the main glass industry in Finland. For this reason he hired some expert craftsmen from Germany and provided new hardware for casting, cutting, grinding and polishing. Moreover, for a proficient administration he hired G. F. Stockmann from Germany and A. Andersson from Sweden, plus seven German glassblower which were later replaced by French and Belgian ones. Törngren continued in renovating the factory plant. In 1857 called the architect Georg T. Chiewitz to design new buildings and a park for the manor in a Neo-Renaissance style. For this and other reasons he was considered a patron of the arts and he had a remarkable philanthropic approach to the management of the human resources. The developing pace at Nuutajärvi industry make Törngren decide to have a better sales system. Therefore in 1859 several shops were opened and some of them were managed by Stockmann. Starting from the shops in Helsinki, few years later, he was able to start his own company that later developed in the famous chain of stores. In those years also exports to Russia and Estonia were very profitable. However in the following years the entrepreneurial interests of Törngren moved to the textile industry developing in Tampere. Therefore the administration was leased to two of the glassworks masters. Despite another catastrophic fire in 1861 the glasshouse was able to start again also thanks to the insurance guaranteed by Scandia company, and from the 60s Finns were hired as glassblowers, as they were finally aware of the most refined productive techniques of the European glass industry. After the crisis due to famine and typhus epidemic that vexed Finland during the end of the 60s, Nuutajärvi was bought by Torsten Costiander, who made several changes in the facilities, including the construction of a primary school for Urjala. Meanwhile, in 1881, one of the bookkeepers, the Swedish-born P. M. Abrahamsson, left Nuutajärvi to establish his own glassworks in a strategic location, in Kalvola parish: it was the beginning of the famous Iittala Glasbruks Aktiebolag (Iittala Glassworks Co Ltd). This company was the main competitor for Nuutajärvi glasshouse for many years until they started a profitable collaboration. During the last two decades of the century there was the introduction of gas furnaces which increased the output by 50%. Nonetheless the last years were quite unfruitful because of the constant increasing number of glassworks in Finland and to the shortage of fuel supplies. The new century began with a renovated interest in art glass that led the glassworks to announce a competition pertinent with the new trend of Art Nouveau.This, in 1905, was won by the architect Walter Jung and Helena Wilenius. Later, other designers could become famous, like Carl Johan Boman, Gustaf Strengell and Jussi Paatela. In the years following the Finnish Independence, due to the unscrupulous competition between the glassworks, Nuutajärvi stopped to produce window glass and relied on bottles and engraved crystal production. This way it entered in competition with Karhula-Iittala and the fledgling Riihimäki (established in
5 1910). The company updated its furnaces and bought new semi-automatic blowing machines. The Second World War forced the glassworks to meet other priorities, giving away many of its estate properties, and in 1949 it changed to Ltd. company. Soon after a fire destroyed again the factory but during the 50s a new managerial attitude was able to make prosper again the glassworks6. Gunnel Nyman could be considered the major renewing designer of glass art in Finland. From 1946, she was the very reformist designer whose work have undeniably influenced all the design of the following glassware. Beside her, Timo Sarpaneva, Tapio Wirkkala and Kaj Franck approach to the art glass and glass design for a good quality everyday glassware was the most successful attitude for Finland raise in order to hit the headlines of the international design critics. Thanks to the competition organized in the same year, Iittala started to gain importance towards the Karhula glassworks, which were both owned by the A. Ahlström company. After the competition Kaj Franck was made free to design new artistic glassware while Göran Hongell, who was the first Finnish designer (hired in 1932), focused on serial production. The administrator Antero Järvinen and later Håkan Söderstrom promoted the design aspect for the whole production. This decision led to a remarkable success in many competitions and fairs, such as the 50s Milan Triennale. In 1956 Timo Sarpaneva designed the i-label for the collection of the same name, which later became the logo for the Iittala brand. In the same year Kaj Franck designed the famous Kartio glass set. The 60s were marked by Tapio Wirkkala creations, such as Ultima Thule (1968). Despite the shortage due to the 70s oil crisis, Iittala company managed to survive thanks to the relation with the international market, as in 1981 it owned the 77 % of the exports of Finnish glassware. In 1988 the company was merged with Nuutajärvi glassworks and the ownership was divided between Ahlström (70%) and Wärtsilä (30%). The company was later sold to the Hackmann group and recently it became part of the Fiskars Corporation. Of all the changes in the management, the design and high quality tendency remained the same, making Finnish glass design one of the most recognisable in the World. Relationships and influences The historical background of both the Venetian and the Finnish culture in glass production is useful to understand the differences and analogies of the respective approach. For instance, the tradition that evolves in a restricted area such as Murano ensure that the glass culture of this entity is deeply rooted with the productive purpose of its initial phase, that means refined and rather small objects destined to an aristocratic clientele. Considering briefly the style of the old Venetian products we can immediately notice both the ancient Roman slant in the general proportions and the decorative richness taken from the Byzantine art. This led rarely to a syncretism but often to a fusion of the styles. This was possible because of the general approach to the matter. In fact glass was considered as a malleable material that could be continuously shaped by adding and melting parts with each others. If we consider now the Finnish glassware we can say that because of its relatively recent tradition, it was born for an industrial purpose (which actually evolved later, as it was a handicraft activity at the beginning) and therefore cared for shape simplicity and low cost and quick production. For this reason it was preferred the use of moulds to cast regularly all the utility glassware. Designers such as Kaj Franck deeply focused on the beauty of the linear shapes, in which the colours were the only decoration; for the same reason as well, Finnish designers started to experiment on the moulds and the textures that could be impressed on the glass. Moreover, considering the Finnish art glass there was a tendency to treat the glass as a hard material which could be sculpted rather than modelled, that means to characterize the objects during the cutting and 6 Jyrki Maunula, “The History of Nuutajärvi: 1793-1950”, in Kaisa Koivisto (ed.) et al., Nuutajärvi: 200 Years of Finnish Glass, Oy Hackman Ab, Tampere, 1993
6 engraving phase rather than the previous hot moulding phase. Considering the style, it is clear how much the nature, in a very direct way, was the main inspirational source for many Finnish designers. Thus, again, it is reasonable consequence the experimentation on the moulds and on the textures lead by Timo Sarpaneva, Kaj Franck and Tapio Wirkkala, during the 50s and 60s. It is interesting how the Finnish companies, in this case, often came to a separation of the departments, one for the mass production and another for art glass, and how these two branches then gradually merged together — like in the Karhula-Iittala case — as other glassware companies fulfilled best the low cost mass production. On the contrary, in Italy, this productive distinctions were almost unnecessary because the companies were dealing on two complete different markets, and they had both a geographical and historical discrepancy which did not allow any kind of relevant relationship, like in the cases of Bormioli Rocco SpA (Parma) and RCR Cristalleria Italiana SpA (Valdelsa, Tuscany). Opening a brief parenthesis in regards to this matter, it is interesting the fact that in Italy there is no significant distinction between industrial and product design. In fact when we consider the designing of a product it is implied that the object must be or could be related to mass production. The handicraft world is considered apart from design, even though they often get mixed with each other. Here comes an interesting contradiction, as matter of fact, in Italian design, as Paolo Fossati noticed: «In Italy there was designing, while production has been weak or it happened only on particular levels. From the financing and grants point of view for this balance sheet of the industrial sector, any research and report about the history of Italian industries is missing, but any way we can presume approximately that during the span of 40 years, the heavy industry has almost never dealt with this problem; the medium-scale has rarely related with design world; and the light industry — often relegated in the handicraft economic and productive system — was the only natural field for our designers. If we consider only the last 10 years of the span between 1930 and 1970, we would notice some changes, with major interventions for the heavy industries and more agile interventions for the other two.»7 From the historical point of view, Finnish design culture and Italian one met for the first time in 1933 at the Milan Triennale, even though some inspiration already came from Murano glass in the previous years, for example in 1930 when Riihimäki glassworks published a catalogue which included a series called “copy of genuine Venetian glass” and in Monza Biennale exhibition in 1925. At the fifth Milan Triennale exhibition, Finland gathered a good success, especially thanks to textile products. The glassware displayed here, was the fruit of the previous year competition held by Karhula-Iittala glassworks. On the sixth Triennale, in 1936, Finland representation was led by Alvar Aalto, whose new company, Artek, displayed his furniture, his pressed glassware and printed fabrics, designed by his wife Aino. She also designed a set of glass dinnerware which was awarded a gold medal. After the war, in 1951 Milan exhibition, Finland was able to increase its success thanks to textile, ceramic and glass products. Moreover Tapio Wirkkala designed the pavilion for this edition in which Finland won six Grand Prix medals. Finland won again six Grand Prix in the following edition, which was more open towards industrialized products. The products exhibited here were Tapio Wirkkala’s plywood carvings, Rut Bryk’s ceramics, textile art and of course the sculpted glass by Timo Sarpaneva and Tapio Wirkkala, produced by Iittala. In 1957 edition the i-line made its debut, which was a great success, also thanks to its fitting colours which were quite typical of the time. On the following edition of the exhibition there were some critics because of the lack of clear glass products. However the participation to the Milan Triennale exhibitions allowed Iittala to gain a great relevance on the international backdrop, even though the company started to exploit this opportunity only in the 60s, increasing relevantly the exports.8 7 Paolo Fossati, Il design in Italia, Einaudi, Turin, 1972, p. 11 8 Marketta Kahma, “The Iittala Glassworks at the Milan Triennale Exhibitions”, in Satu Grönstrand et al., Ittala in the Triennales of Milan: the Exhibition at Iittala Glass Museum, Iittala glass factory, Iittala, 1987, p. 15
7 Beside the Milan exhibitions, other very relevant contacts took place from for over 80 years, starting from the 30s. In 1938 Aino Aalto arranged an Exhibition at the Artek Firm in Helsinki, displaying Venini glassware. This exhibition was inspiring for Gunnel Nyman and Kaj Franck. Another interesting fact is that in 1946 Iittala competition, Tapio Wirkkala displayed his “Finestra” (Window), a window which depicts an Italian street scene, even if Tapio had never been in Italy at the time. He visited Italy for the first time three years later where he met Giò Ponti and later Paolo Venini. Meanwhile, Italian products were published on the Swedish magazine Form, which contributed to expand the knowledge about this design culture in the Nordic countries. In the following years more designers started to become interested in Murano glass. Thanks to Maire Gullichsen (who, with her husband, was the main support for Artek and therefore already known Venetian glass) and Herman Olof Gummerus, Kaj Franck (1949 and 1951), Timo Sarpaneva (1953) and Oiva Toikka (1954) could visit Venetian glassworks. Moreover the Milan exhibition from 1951 to 1960 strengthened the relationship between Italy and Finland, so that Tapio Wirkkala designed Commedia dell’arte figures and Kaj Franck designed Woodcock pieces. In the same years, Timo Sarpaneva got close to Flavio Poli’s work. They both found some inspiring sparks looking the other’s approach to glass, as it can be seen in their respective works, which seem to express the same concepts. Kaj Franck was able to compare his thought about the use of colours during his stay in Venice. About Venini, he said: «Cocktails out of dazzlingly coloured glasses, each of different colour. Amongst all other Venetian glassware is copies of Venini or damned ugly. Often both»9. Looking at his objects it is clear the difference of the palette used, from the colours often used in Venice. Kaj Franck’s colours are tenuous and more earthy, while the colours used in Murano are vivid and very saturated. Nonetheless Kaj Franck’s use of colours was successful in Nordic cultures, as these colours started to become fashionable also in Germany10, as if bright colours were more suited for the Mediterranean spirit. As it can be noticed in Prisma series (1968) colours, in Kaj Franck’s perspective, are intended for a standardised production; in fact these objects were amongst the first ones to be produced with pressed glass in an automatic line. In 1951, after Nuutajärvi was rebuilt, Kaj Franck became the artistic director and after H. O. Gummerus suggestion he invited two Venetian glass blowers: Armando Jacobino and Giusto Ferro. Kaj Franck goal was to bring back to the glory the old filigree technique and for this reason the two Venetian masters were asked to make several experiments, trying to apply the filigree to the common Finnish technique. The task was not fulfilled as the glass blowers could not adapt their skills to the Finnish crafting system. Therefore, Kaj Franck created a new system to produce filigree glass, which was easier to manage but produced less elaborated results: it was called multicoloured rag rug filigree11. Jacobino kept workin a Nuutajärvi for several years, producing some typical Murano figurines and in 1959 he established his own glass studio at Jokela. Meanwhile he was hired as glassblower at the Kumela glassworks in Riihimäki, where he worked until his death. In the following years several others foreigners glassblowers came to Finland and Italians held several workshops in Riihimäki and Nuutajärvi glassworks. For example, in 1990 Lino Tagliapietra came in Finland, invited by the American Dale Chihuly, who in 1993 also invited Pino Signoretto for the workshops held for the bicentennial of the Nuutajärvi glassworks. Vittorio Ferro and later Orlando and Stefano Fennaro came at Nuutajärvi glassworks from 1996. In 1998, Livio Serena came at Riihimäki and held a workshop at JL-lasi. In the same year Giorgio Vigna held a jewellery workshop at 9 Kaisa Koivisto, “On the Finnish and Venetian Glass”, in Finns at Venini: Exhibition at the Finnish Glass Museum 11.5-26.8.2007, ed. Heikki Matiskainen et al., Finnish Glass Museum, Riihimäki, 2007, p.27 10 Kaisa Koivisto, “On the Finnish and Venetian Glass”, Ibid., p. 27 11 Liisa Räsänen, “Glass Making”, in Kaj Kalin et al., Kaj Franck: Designer, Werner Söderström Oy, Helsinki, 2007, p. 102
8 the Wetterhoff school in Hämeenlinna, which was also attended by Niina Mahlberg. In 1999 and 2000 Italo Ballarin was the last Italian to hold a workshop in the Finnish glassworks. Despite the direct collaboration has not continued in these days, there are still some thematic workshops held in the Finnish glassworks which focuses on the Venetian traditional glass, such as the one held by Jim Mongrain, in 2006. Dealing with the Finns who worked in Venice, I would say it is remarkable the fact that Venini glassworks has been probably the most admired one abroad amongst other Murano glassworks. Effectively Venini glassware was considered to be the closest to the international taste, it being understood the visible deep influence of past tradition. Curiously, the other side of the coin is that Venini was considered as an outsider and for this reason unworthy to bear the old traditions. The first direct meeting in the glassworks with the Nordic culture happened in 1937 when Paolo Venini invited the artist Tyra Lundgren, where she produced sculptural objects, nature inspired, such as birds, fish and leaf bowls. This collaboration marked a special turning point for both parts but especially for the Murano glassworks which restarted the development after the stagnant phase in the beginning of the century. As Helmut Ricke says: «The decisive aspect of this example is that already early collaboration between North and South led to results in which both orientations, with their respective strengths, were able to create a joint entity. The craftsmen’s art of Murano was enhanced with the poetically attuned design culture of the North.»12 For the same reasons described above, Venini glassworks was a natural environment for every designer to experiment on glass. During the 70s and throughout the following decades, Karhula-Iittala glassworks which was already a successful company, counted on the products that the great masters designed until then and it set aside very limited space for experimentation, in particular regarding colours (that is a reasonable choice as the products were made for a series production. It would have been risky to support experimentation which might have produced non-desirable objects); in fact the last innovative design could be considered the Finlandia series. Therefore Finnish designers found a new stimulating environment in the Venetian glassworks which, by their nature, have always relied on artistic innovation and are not much concerned about the standardization of the production. So Tapio Wirkkala, from the 60s until the 80s, and Timo Sarpaneva, from 1989, were the two major Finnish designer who collaborated with Venini (despite Sarpaneva refused the first invitation in the 50s). They were able to create extraordinary pieces, which were modulations on the Finnish typical glassware with the addition of bright colours or completely new experiments that integrated the traditional Murano technique (such as the free blowing, incalmo, murrina, filigree, golden leaf inclusions, etc.), as it can be seen in the Bolle and Coreano series, by Wirkkala, or the Kukinto vases and the various Loisto and Tuuli objects, by Sarpaneva. In some of these experiments it can be noticed the hesitancy to use vivid colours and, on the contrary, the use of tenuous colours or the combination of clear glass: an evident heritage of the Finnish production. A remarkable example of experimentation is the 1990 Laine series, obtained by blowing with a wet stick. Despite Kaj Franck never designed any glass object for any of the Venetian glassworks, it is very clear the influence that the Murano culture had on his conception of designing glass, even though he has always remained unique — like Gunnel Nyman, Arttu Brummer and Oiva Toikka — in the design field. He could be considered a precursor of the design as we conceive it nowadays, thanks to his forward-thinking and maybe idealistic approach. Looking at his work, we can see that he both fulfilled experimentation to research on the matter and on the shape and to satisfy his artistic impulses. Plus, he was very determined in pursuing the requirements of what we call good design. About anonymity, he said: «The larger the series of articles it is intended to produce, the greater the responsibility and the larger the number of people who share that responsibility.The name of the designer should not appear first or as the 12 Helmut Ricke, “Venini and Europe: a Success Story Between Tradition and Renewal”, in Finns at Venini..., p.20
9 only information about the product. The goal is that an industrial article is produced, sold and bought as an object whose own characteristics determine whether it is good or bad, beautiful or ugly. Design should not be an end in itself, but the means by which the overall function is best expressed.»13 and «Radicalism is, however, necessary when progress stops or renewal is only superficial»14 which are two concepts that can be also located in the Italian trends of the 60s and 70s (remembering the Bruno Munari’s initiative to award unknown design with the Compasso d’Oro by the ADI, Italian Design Association, and the radicalism arose during those years). Thus, the extravagance of some glass objects that can be compared to some Pulegoso pieces or Carlo Scarpa’s a Bollicine (“with bubbles”) or Corroso (“Corroded”) pieces, such as the bowls and containers prototypes of the late 70s. I believe that Kaj Franck and Carlo Scarpa, despite being very different personalities, might have several similarities in their method and pedagogy15. Furthermore they shared a strong interest for the Japanese culture which, in my opinion, can be seen in the project for the Ministry of Education Courtyard, designed in 19841987. Harri Koskinen started his collaboration with Venini glassworks in 2003, after an encounter at the Frankfurt Fair in 1999. He designed several products using the typical Venetian technique inventory combined with the poetic and elegant style of Nordic design, as we can see in the Orbital vase. The new trends of contemporary design and the increased developed network between companies and designers on the international level made so that direct encounters between Finnish and Italian design know-how are more sporadic but they can still access this knowledge, looking at their heritage. The tendency of famous brands is to entrust the potential success of a new design to the celebrity of the designer, while the basic knowledge of a given productive entity seems, in my opinion, rather accessory (even though there are some good countertrends taking place in the last years). Nevertheless there is still a great interest for the relationships occurred in the design cultures, as some recent initiatives prove. Sometimes these events are organised directly by the leading institutions, but more frequently by the institutions which preserve this historical heritage, such as the Finnish Glass Museum, the Iittala Glass Museum and the Cini Foundation in Venice, as the recent exhibition “Glass from Finland in the Bischofberger Collection”16 (that took place within the project “Le Stanze del Vetro”) can prove. I believe that these kind of initiatives are fundamental to keep alive the awareness of the society wherein this kind of productive traditions settled and still evolve, thus keeping them alive. These productive sectors — although deeply rooted in the handicraft system and, nowadays, quite saturated — can offer an invaluable chance for the young designers17 and both the exhibition Finnish Glass Lives (Suomen Lasi Elää) and the experimentation Breaking the Mould18 (led by AUT studio and Marco Zito) are a clear evidence of this opportunity.
13 Kaj Franck’s thoughts about the anonymity, in Kaj Kalin et al., Kaj Franck..., p. 182 14 Kaj Franck’s thoughts about the Teema. Ritva Koskinen’s Interview, 8.12.1980, Ibid., p. 194 15 It is a personal opinion. I will not present here the possible analogies but I refer you to A lezione con Carlo Scarpa, ed. Franca Semi, Cicero editore, Venice, 2010 16 From 13.4 to 2.8.2015, island of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice. 17 As Marco Zito says in a recent article on Abitare: A Forum by Abitare: where is design going? www.abitare.it/en/research/studies/2016/02/08/forum-abitare-where-is-design-going/ 18 www.breaking-the-mould.com/btm-01/en/index.php
11 Bibliography and webliography Renato De Fusco, Storia del design, Laterza, Bari, 201316 Paolo Fossati, Il design in Italia, Einaudi, Turin, 1972 Venini: Catalogue Raisonné 1921-1986, ed. Anna Venini Diaz de Santillana, Skira, Milan, 2000 Marino Barovier et al., Venetian Glass: 20th Century Italian Glass. The Nancy Olnick and Giorgio Spanu Collection, Charta, Milan, 2000 Finns at Venini: Exhibition at the Finnish Glass Museum 11.5-26.8.2007, ed. Heikki Matiskainen et al., Finnish Glass Museum, Riihimäki, 2007 Satu Grönstrand et al., Ittala in the Triennales of Milan: the Exhibition at Iittala Glass Museum, Iittala glass factory, Iittala, 1987 Kaisa Koivisto (ed.) et al., Nuutajärvi: 200 Years of Finnish Glass, Oy Hackman Ab, Tampere, 1993 Kaj Kalin et al., Kaj Franck: Designer, Werner Söderström Oy, Helsinki, 2007 Timo Sarpaneva: Collection, ed. Marianne Aav et al., Designmuseo, Helsinki, 2002 Alvar Aalto: designer, ed. Pirkko Tuukkanen, Alvar Aalto Foundation, Alvar Aalto Museum, Jyväskylä, 2002 Juhani Pallasmaa et al., Tapio Wirkkala: Venini, Finnish Glass Museum, Riihimäki, 1987 Liisa-Maria Hakala-Zilliacus et al., Stone Garden for Science and Art, Ministry of Education Publications, Helsinki, 2009 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Joseph_Owens www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/03585522.1953.10410063 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iittala http://venini.com/it/ http://www.salviati.com http://lestanzedelvetro.org http://www.finnishglassmuseum.fi/Suomen-Lasimuseo/The-Finnish-Glass-Museum/ http://www.iittalalasimaki.fi/index.php?sivu=35661 http://www.abitare.it/en/research/studies/2016/02/08/forum-abitare-where-is-design-going/ http://www.breaking-the-mould.com/btm-01/en/index.php
Glossary Lattimo: objects, especially in XVI-XVIII century, made of opalescent vitreous paste, usually with a milky aspect. Incalmo: technique that allows to join two different pieces of glass with a more or less regular junction. Filigree: technique where the glass is textured using thin coloured glass rods that are included in the main form. Corroso: “corroded”.Technique that provide an opaque and coarse texture to the glass, using some acids. Sommerso: “submerged”. In this technique the initial blown shape is later immersed in fluid hot glass, acquiring a smoother and thicker shape. Murrina: in general multi-coloured glass. In particular, object obtained by putting different layers of coloured glass upon a glass rod, on the lenght direction. The resulting section is made by concentric shapes of different colours and it can be used to decorate other glass.
Tapio e Venezia1 Non ci incontravamo a Milano, ci incontravamo a Venezia, come una volta facevano i Re (e anche Candido). Venezia era, ed è, il solo reame che si può contrapporre alla Lapponia: la riflette. Nell’acqua, nella lentezza. Lentezza in forma di barca. E murano è un’isola che si raggiunge in barca; all’alba (l’alba c’è ancora, a Venezia, e a Tapio è necessaria), per vivervi la lunga, meditata, bella giornata artigiana. In Finlandia il vetro di Tapio era diamante, era ghiaccio. A Venezia il vetro di Tapio era colore, era aria. Si possono avere due madrepatrie? Io credo. Come gli uccelli migratori. Lisa Licitra Ponti
Tapio and Venice We did not use to meet in Milan, we used to meet in Venice, like Kings did in the past (and as Candido did). Venice was, and is, the only realm that one can counterpose to Lapland: Venice reflects it. In water, in slowness. Slowness of a boat. And Murano is an island which is reached by boat; at dawn (dawn still exists, in Venice, and it is neccessary for Tapio), to live the long, thoughtful, beautiful artisan’s day. In Finland Tapio’s glass was diamond, was ice. In Venice Tapio’s glass was colour, was air. Is it possible to have two motherlands? I believe so. Like migratory birds. Lisa Licitra Ponti
1 Juhani Pallasmaa et al., Tapio Wirkkala: Venini, Finnish Glass Museum, Riihimäki, 1987, preface
Tapio Wirkkala Bolle 503.0, 503.2, 503.1, 502.1 1966-67, Venini & C. H 41.1, 23.9, 30.9, 20.5 cm Tapio Wirkkala Jääpala 1950. Iittala, unique piece H 9.2 W 36.0 D 24.0 cm, Tapio Wirkkala Coreano 505.5 1966, Venini & C. Ø 41.4 cm
Fulvio Bianconi and Paolo Venini Fazzoletti 1950, Venini & C. H 10–28 cm Carlo Scarpa Laccati Rossi e Neri 1940, Venini & C. H 17 cm, H 7 Ø 24,5 cm
19 p. 16 Carlo Scarpa Mezza Filigrana 1932-36, Venini & C. Carlo Scarpa Granulari 1940, Venini & C. Carlo Scarpa Murrine opache e trasparenti 1940, Venini & C. p. 17 Tapio Wirkkala Filigrane di Tapio 534.1 1970, Venini & C. Ă˜ 21.5 cm Timo Sarpaneva Kajakki 1953, Iittala H 5.1 W 58.7 D 9.0 cm.
Timo Sarpaneva Kukinto 548.00 1990, Venini & C. H 40.3 cm Timo Sarpaneva Kelo 544.00 1990, Venini & C. H 47.2 cm Timo Sarpaneva Tuuli 543.03 1990, Venini & C. H 31.7 cm
Arttu Brummer Vase 1932, Karhula H 18.5 Ø 15.3 cm.
Oiva Toikka Kiikkuri 1975, Nuutajärvi H 26.5 44.9 15.1 cm
Oiva Toikka Pampulavaasi 1968. Nuutajärvi, unique piece H 56.2 15.5 17.0 cm
Gunnel Nyman Vase 1938. Riihimäki H 20.9 Ø 15.7 cm
Fulvio Bianconi Pappagallo, gallo e galline 1953, Venini & C. Carlo Scarpa A bollicine 1932-36, Venini & C. H 20 cm Lino Tagliapietra and Kerttu Nurminen Incalmo vase 1993, NuutajĂ¤rvi
23 p. 22 Kaj Franck, Lauri Anttila, Olli Tamminen Stone Garden for Science and Art, Ministry of Education Helsinki, 1987 Pool stones detail Table detail
Carlo Scarpa Sculpture Garden, Italian pavilion at Venice Biennale Venice, 1952 Carlo Scarpa Fondazione Querini Stampalia Venice, 1961â€“1963 Garden detail
25 Photographs credits
Harri Koskinen Orbital 1-788.56 and 1-788.55 2003, Venini & C. H 34.5 cm, H 27.5 cm AUT Breaking the Mould, Experiment 2a 2011, Salviati H 32 Ø 35 cm
Timo Syrjänen Rauno Träskelin Luca Vignelli Enrico Fiorese Le Stanze del Vetro AUT Jukka I. Lehtinen Finland State Art Collection
on the first page Timo Sarpaneva Vase Finlandia 1964, Iittala H 28 D 23 cm Carlo Scarpa Murrine opache e trasparenti 1940, Venini & C.