Tapio Wirkkala

Artist, designer (1915-1985)

Artist, designer

Tapio Wirkkala

The internationally acclaimed artist Tapio Wirkkala (1915–1985) is a leading figure in modern Finnish industrial art and one of its most respected designers. A prize winner at several Milan Triennial art and design exhibitions, he was awarded the Pro Finlandia Medal in 1955 and the honorary title of Academician in 1972. Wirkkala designed several works that became classics, such as the Chanterelle vase, banknotes for the Bank of Finland and the Finlandia vodka bottle. Glassware designed by Wirkkala for Iittala is particularly well known, including the Ultima Thule series. 

The geometric WIR light source, designed in 1959, revolutionised the notion of a traditional incandescent lamp. The following year, the product was awarded the Grand Prix at the Milan Triennial. These award-winning opal glass bulbs inspired Wirkkala to create a number of luminaires composed of various geometric glass and metal elements. Tapio Wirkkala's extensive product portfolio includes luminaires with a particularly graphic and geometric design. They combine pure forms, clean lines and an understated beauty. 

Wirkkala was a versatile artist who worked with glass, wood, porcelain, metal and plastic.  Although Wirkkala was best known as an industrial designer, he was also a renowned exhibition architect and graphic designer. 

Wirkkala's legacy – innovative works and manufacturing techniques – continue to enrich the field to this day. His work is characterised by solid craftsmanship and an exceptional ability to work with different materials.