All posts tagged: Iittala

travel guide: postcards from Helsinki

Travel: postcards from Helsinki

This year Finland is celebrating 100 years of independence and what perfect excuse to visit its beautiful, harbour-side capital, Helsinki. Just before Christmas last year I headed there for a work trip, I’d been once before in the summer, but this time the white skies seemed to bring out the earthy tones of the buildings and the low sunshine cast long shadows across the cobbled streets. It was certainly crisp and cold, but cosy dips into coffee shops and boutiques thawed the toes and warmed the soul. Slightly overshadowed in many ways by its Scandinavian cousins Stockholm and Copenhagen, it’s taken time for the Finnish city to find its own identity. The country was first governed by Sweden, and then by the Russians, so the city’s architecture sits somewhere in-between east and west, Europe and the Baltics – its neoclassical buildings and long boulevards bear influences from Leningrad and Moscow, while the cathedral was modelled on St Petersburg’s. In the 20th century it was Eliel Saarinen and Alvar Aalto that helped put the city on the map, from Saarinen’s art …

The making of Alvar Aalto's famous vase

Your Home Needs This: Alvar Aalto vase

My series ‘Your Home Needs This’ is all about profiling beautiful design classics and timeless pieces of furniture that I feel everyone should have in their home. And this one is the perfect example – the Alvar Aalto vase, produced by Finnish glass manufacturer Iittala. If I had to name my favourite piece of design, ever, this would be it. It’s by my favourite architect and designer, Alvar Aalto, and it’s my favourite object at home. I love its soft, sinuous form that makes it truly unique – there’s nothing quite like filling it with flowers and enjoying its sculptural shape day after day. The Aalto vase has become a true classic in Scandinavian design, found in the homes of every Finn and in museum collections across the world. Compared to the highly decorative objects being made at the time the vase was first created, the organic shape of the vase was a revolutionary statement. Inspired by waves in water (Aalto means ‘wave’ in Finnish), it’s a simple design whose tactility appeals to the senses. It’s lost none of its allure …

A light, summer workspace with Design Letters

Christmas gift guide for design lovers

It may just be the beginning of December, but I’m feeling decidedly festive already. I’m itching to get the Christmas decorations out and make the house sparkle and glow, but there’s so much to do like painting and decorating for the renovation project first. Which leaves me to write up my Christmas shopping list and get ahead with some online purchasing for my loved ones. I love buying and gifting presents, especially if they’re the more unusual finds that that person may not have come across before. So, I’ve gathered together a selection of choice design pieces and minimal products for the design lovers out there. Hand-picked from some of my favourite independent shops and Scandi brands, there’s iconic design classics such as Alvar Aalto’s vase for Iittala and by Lassen’s Kubus candleholder, as well as beautiful handmade pieces from the likes of Another Country, Cooee and Mon Pote. And making it super simple, you can purchase them all right here from my blog… I hope you might have found a present or two for …


Alvar Aalto at Pitzhanger Manor

An exhibition on my favourite architect Alvar Aalto is currently on at Pitzhanger Manor in Ealing. (In 2011 I made a bit of a pilgrimage to Finland to see his work, such as his studio here and his house here, which you can see in previous posts if you want to find out a bit more about him). Reason & Intuition: Alvar Aalto & Ola Kolehmainen places Aalto’s creations around the historic rooms of Sir John Soane’s country villa. You think it wouldn’t work– placing Finnish modernism in an 18th century house– but I loved the interaction between old and new. In the breakfast room there is some of his glasswork, including the ‘Savoy’– so-called because Aalto and his wife Aino used it in their interior for the Savoy restaurant in Helsinki– and the Aalto flower, a set of stackable vases designed for the 1939 New York World’s Fair. In the library there is his table and chairs, while the small drawing room has two fascinating films on his home in Helsinki’s Munkkiniemi neighbourhood and his …


Varpunen + Iittala

  Finnish blogger Susanna Vento of Varpunen showed off some photos of her collaboration with Scandinavian homeware brand Iittala this week. Susanna has shot four Christmas themed photoshoots of Iittala’s new home interior range, which features lights, lanterns, plywood boxes and bags made out of felt for home storage as well as ceramics and cookware. The Vakka plywood boxes in the images are designed by Elina and Klaus Aalto and come in white and wood with contrasting bottoms, while Harri Koskinen’s 1999 Lantern, a sculptured candle holder, has been reborn as an electrical version. Keep an eye out on Susanna’s blog for the next three photoshoots for Iittala here. Lantern-valaisimet // Lantern lights // Iittala Essence Plus -kuohuviinilasit itsenäisyyspäivän kilistelyille // Essence Plus glasses // Iittala Marmorikulho // marble bowl // flea market find Marmorilaatta // marble tiles // Bauhaus Koristenauha // garland // DIY