26 March – 19 September 2021
The Design Museum has invited architect Florencia Colombo and industrial designer Ville Kokkonen to research and curate an exhibition on the 140-year history of Iittala. The comprehensive Iittala collection of the Design Museum – over ten thousand objects – and its extensive archives of documents and images are the curators’ primary resources. The exhibition is complemented by items on loan from private and public collections.
Practically all Finns are familiar with the Iittala brand that has also gained international recognition. The history of Iittala is, in fact, a complex story that reflects not only the history of the design industry but also the story of Finland and the country’s journey into a modern, affluent society. Simultaneously, Iittala has had a key role in the development of international design. The Nordic lifestyle, its progressiveness, sustainability and functional aesthetics are features that the brand cherishes and represents. What began as a small glass factory in 1881 has grown into a collection of timeless classics found in many Finnish homes.
“There have been many milestones on this journey – the quest for independence and the successive configuration of national identities, the effects of the wars, the flux of aesthetic and ideological movements, economic and diplomatic expansion, sociocultural shifts and the consequential changes within the ways of life”, the exhibition curators explain.
The exhibition that will open in March 2021 will be divided into two themes. The 140 years of Iittala and its reflections on the history of Finnish and international design will be viewed from many angles, as if through a kaleidoscope. The themes of ‘From Nature to Culture’ illustrate the life cycle of Iittala’s works, from material resource to their social functions.
“The history of Iittala does not follow a linear path but rather a complex network that is deeply embedded within Finland’s 20th century’s cultural, political and social evolution”, Colombo and Kokkonen, the curators of the exhibition, point out.
Iittala book will be published by Phaidon in spring 2021. In the book writers Florencia Colombo and Ville Kokkonen are addressing the cultural relevance of the brand across past, present and future perspectives. The content will offer a multi-layered perspective to Iittala’s character and legacy through a collection of essential instances that have contributed to define its unique profile.