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Tapio Wirkkala

Biographies
Tapio Wirkkala

*  1915 Hanko
† 1985 Esbo


The Finnish industrial designer Tapio Wirkkala was one of the most distinguished artists to shape Scandinavian design. His objects for use in the home link consummate artistry and workmanship with the possibilities afforded by industrial manufacturing processes. Tapio Wirkkala's designs are inspired by natural forms; from them he created utilitarian objects that are as aesthetically satisfying as they are functional. From 1933 to 1936 Tapio Wirkkala studied sculpture at the Central School of Industrial Design in Helsinki. After finishing his studies, Tapio Wirkkala worked as a sculptor and a graphic designer, already submitting his first designs to industry. In 1947 Tapio Wirkkala took part in a design contest for glass mounted by Iittala, sharing first prize with the designer Kaj Franck. Tapio Wirkkala's 1946 design for the "Kantarelli" vase of handblown glass with a flaring rim was produced by Iittala in various models from 1947 until 1960. Tapio Wirkkala is known primarily for his vases based on organic forms, which look like sculpture. For the Rosenthal Studio line Tapio Wirkkala designed "Aphrodite", a porcelain vase that was produced in a limited edition of only 200. At least as famous as his vases are Tapio Wirkkala's leaf-shaped dishes made of laminated wood, which was cut and hollowed out to create a stunning striped effect. From 1951 to 1954 Tapio Wirkkala was artistic director of the Central School of Industrial Design in Helsinki. During his tenure there, Tapio Wirkkala also showed his designs at Milan Triennales, receiving numerous awards for them. In 1955/56 Tapio Wirkkala collaborated with Raymond Loewy in New York. From 1956 Tapio Wirkkala had his own design practice in Helsinki. Tapio Wirkkala designed a great many bowls and vases for Rosenthal, cutlery such as "Century", "Composition" and "Taille" as well as porcelain services, including "Century" and "Polygon". Wirkkala also designed glass for Venini. Tapio Wirkkala's work has received a great many awards worldwide.