Behind the Brand | Iittala
What started as a glass factory in Iittala, Finland, today celebrates generations of essential objects where quality, aesthetics and functionality are important values. Iittala believes in interior design that lasts a lifetime.
The progressive philosophy of our design heroes, Kaj Franck and Alvar Aalto, still inspires us to keep Iittala forever relevant. We don’t just create beautiful objects. We believe in timeless design that will never be thrown away.
The roots of Iittala date back to 1881 when a glass factory was established in a village of the same name in southern Finland. In its early years Iittala produced blown, pressed, polished, painted and etched glass according to continental models.
In the beginning of the 20th century dinnerware was decorated with a variety of ornaments. Iittala was one of the first companies to make the transition from decorative dinner sets to functional, aesthetically pleasing objects infused with progressive Scandinavian design.
The breakthrough came in the early years of modernism and functionalism during the 1930s and 40s. At that time it was pioneers like Alvar Aalto, Aino Aalto and Kaj Franck who led the development of the Iittala brand. Their belief was that objects should always be designed with thought and make them available for everyone. It was Aalto’s and Franck’s thinking that set the foundation for the Iittala design philosophy: to push the boundaries and to give people beauty and function.
This breakthrough in Finnish design, also changed glassware ranges led by Iittala in the 1950s and 1960s. A new kind of aesthetics and functionality affected Finnish glassware design while most other countries still used traditional, extensive glassware ranges. A simplified, modern design took over from cut crystal.
The core idea behind Iittala is to offer aesthetically and functionally durable products that bring enjoyment and pleasure to everyday life, whether it is about dining, creating a mood or storing small items at home. Iittala objects are designed to be combined, with different designs across series, as well as with existing home environments.
“We believe people have the right to expect the design they buy to last a lifetime. We also see that the world is becoming more and more aware of the value of long-lasting design. We believe quality never goes out of fashion. The effort put into quality design has paid off: the Iittala collection includes not only new design but also items that have been around for more than 80 years.”
Although our objects look pure and simple in form, making them is far from easy. A vast amount of human skills, knowledge of materials, colors and production methods is required to create an object of ideal quality.
“We have always pushed the boundaries of what is possible. Highly-skilled, experienced glassblowers, designers and other professionals working closely together in every part of the design and production process are essential in realizing these objects, making Iittala what it is.”
Iittala’s design values are based on the progressive philosophy of our design pioneers. The names of Alvar and Aino Aalto have been connected to Iittala since the beginning. Alvar Aalto wanted to ‘free’ glass from geometric form and create an impression of organic, living forms. Aino and Alvar Aalto believed objects should be essential, beautiful, useful and democratically available to all.
“We continue to work with the legendary designers while at the same time welcoming new designers from all over the world who share the same philosophy. Contemporary designers create a continuity for our design heritage and build the future of Iittala.”