I i t tala Kastehelmi The Kastehelmi range of glassware (Kastehelmi translated from Finnish is “dew pearl”) is one of the most well know glassware from I i ttala in Finland. The decoration of these glassware looks like there would be small, different sized pearls rhythmically receding from the center. The designer of Kastehelmi is Oiva Toikka, very well know Finnish glass artist. The actual story of the design process is more practical than the fragile name and outlook gives to understand. The idea of using droplets of glass as decoration came to Toikka from the technical challenge: he was thinking of the ways of covering the joint marks left on the surface of pressed glass pieces by the production process. For the designer’s sake it must be said, that the manufacturing method would have needed only one pearl, but it was by aesthetic reasons the designer added full load of pearls to the mold. This design was one of the first works Oiva Toikka did for the famous Nuutajärvi glass factory. Kastehelmi series was announced in 1964, and it was instantly a huge success. The series was in production constantly until 1988, but in 2010, Iittala started the Kastehelmi production again, bringing the most popular pieces again on the market. Kastehelmi series includes plates, bowls, small mugs and coasters; plates in five different size and bowls in three. Additional to the transparent glass Kastehelmi has been made in grey, red, brown, turquoise, olive green and emerald. New colors introduced in 2010 are light blue and apple green. During its production years Kastehelmi become so popular, that copies of it were introduced by other manufacturers. One factory in England developed the copy of Kastehelmi and tried to get a monopoly for selling this product in England. It was discover that their model was an exact match of the original Kastehelmi. There was a mistake in the original plate - two of the pearls were connected to each other – and the same was in the English copy. The English manufacturer was accused of the plagiarism and they had to withdraw their products from market.
Where to place your art glass objects? There has been a long tradition for the beautiful glass objects made in Finland. One of the biggest and most notorious manufacturers is I i ttala, the company that has been specialised making everyday glassware and art glass. One of the Iittala’s most popular art glass series is the Birds from Oiva Toikka. This extensive collection of different kind of glass birds is popular gift to give from farewells to weddings, and many Finns collect these beautiful birds. Finding the right place in home for any beautiful glass object is challenging due the nature of the glass. The glass designer Oiva Toikka, the designer also behind the Birds, says that glass has its own will. The will is interpreted by the glassblowers.
Glass breaks down easily. According to Toikka, this ability underscores the will of the glass. When the glass object gets broken on the manufacturing process, it tells that something is not right. Glass object that gets broken after purchasing it is not treated right. As everyone know hard hits will break the glass, but sanding or direct sunlight can also affect the glass object and make it to blow up. Even it is tempting to keep glass objects next the window (as the light is reflected so nicely through them), glass objects should not be placed there. The sun does not only break the glass, it also affects to the color of the glass. Another harmful for the glass is sound. Sound waves affect to the glass and may lead to sudden break of the glass object. The most harmful is to place the glassware on the top of the piano. In many families the piano is the most expensive, and therefore the most presentable piece of interior decoration, and the desire to place a beautiful glass object on top of it is tempting. That should be considered illegal in every case, since it ads the probability of the glass object to get broken. The correct place for storing and presenting glassware is in the middle of the room or in shelves. Window sill might be used in some cases, but the plausible loss of glass art object should be then taken into account.
Different design from Scandinavia Sokeva-käsityö products are genuine Scandinavian design, but with an human touch. These handmade products are made by visually impaired craftsmen and women. Sokeva-käsity is the service unit of Finnish Federation of the Visually Impaired (FFVI). It employs about 500 visually impaired craftsman and –women, who produce their handicrafts in their own domicile, often even in their own homes. These artists prepare different household and cleaning manes, brushes, braided baskets and furniture, various textiles, mats and other interior products. Some of these craftsmen and –women do these handiworks just for a hobby, whereas for some, this is their profession. Sokeva has supported craftwork among visually impaired people since the 19th century. The professional training of craftwork for visually impaired started in Finland in the beginning of that century. The centralized service unit for these handicrafts has been ongoing for more than 50 years. The trademark of this work is Annansilmäflower, which means that the person made this product is visually impaired or totally blind. The aim of the unit is to find, develop and discover possibilities of handicrafts that could been made by visually impaired persons. The unit purchases and delivers the materials for art workers, advises and guides of preparing the products, does research and development related to the products, takes care of marketing and helps craftsperson in direct marketing of their products.
The most important goal for Sokeva-käsityöt is to employ visually impaired persons. Another important task in their agenda is to eliminate the barriers and prejudices related to the possibilities of visually impaired persons to work as craftsman or woman. Some famous designers have made collaboration with Sokeva-käsityö. For example Sokeva-käsityö manufactures Eero Aarnio’s Mushroom stools that are made from hand-woven wicker. This Finnish design classic was originally designed the stool as a multi-purpose piece of furniture for TV rooms and bed rooms, but this stylish stool finds its place in any room. Thanks to the supportive structure built inside the stool, the Mushroom stool is stable and sturdy.
Family Chai rs by Design House Stockholm Its not a chair, it is the family of chairs! Family Chairs from Design house Stockholm is actually four different chairs in three different colors. The chairs are like traditional Swedish wooden stickback chairs, typical for Scandinavian design, made from lacquered beech wood. But unlike their ancestors, these chairs have personal stickbacks and spundles between the chair legs. The chairs can be used separately. As unique piece of design one chair refers to the traditional stickback chairs with a little modern twist. But placed together, they form a family: the chairs are being similar but having each one a distinctive character that comes out when they are grouped together. The design of the chairs transforms something well-known and traditional into something unexpected. The designer Lina Nordqvist has told, that she is fascinated by objects. She is fond of giving the furniture their own special individuality that overcomes mere technical function. In her past Lina Nordqvist has pursued a career as a professional set designer in the Swedish film industry for several years, which might also explain the stage like character of the chair. MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, picked up the first shipment of Family Chairs for it’s autumn collection. Family Chairs won the Accent on Design Award in New York August 2009, and was also awarded with Swedish Elle Decoration’s Design Award in 2010.