On 24 November 2021, Iittala’s official anniversary, the local community of Iittala celebrated a new landmark at the heart of the village. The installation, called Circulation, created by designer Tuomas Markunpoika, marks the 140th anniversary of Iittala Glass Factory and the Iittala brand, illustrating the close relationship between the glass factory and the local village. Founded in 1881, Iittala Glass Factory remains at the core of Iittala’s now internationally renowned Nordic design brand. Iittala’s essential objects have played an important role in Finnish homes through the decades. This has inspired Markunpoika’s work, which symbolises the home of Finnish glass.
Iittala plays a significant role in Finnish material culture, with Iittala objects found in almost every home. In 2021, Iittala celebrates its 140th anniversary. To mark the occasion, a spectacular glass installation has been created in the village of Iittala in the Kanta-Häme region. The project, which is a collaboration with the City of Hämeenlinna, has been ongoing since 2019. The designer of the glass installation is Tuomas Markunpoika, who has collaborated with Iittala before. In his designs, Markunpoika aims to add a hint of mystery and surprise to everyday objects. ”In essence, my work is about the unity and harmony between the local community and Iittala Glass Factory. The social aspect is important to the Iittala story,” Markunpoika says. Markunpoika’s work symbolically combines traditions and nature to convey the symbiotic relationship between the village and the factory. ”I didn’t want the installation to be associated with any specific Iittala object, as the story of Iittala isn’t just about a single item,” Markunpoika continues.
Nature and water shape the past and present of the glass factory
The surrounding nature, forest and water have defined the origins of Iittala Glass Factory. The factory has depended on both wood and water. Certain objects are still mouth-blown into wooden moulds today. The choice of wood as the material that frames the work of art was heavily inspired by Iittala’s history. Made from glass balls, the installation depicts nature’s water cycle. Markunpoika aims to showcase the way the different states of water form a harmonic whole – just like in glassmaking. ”The glass factory and the surrounding nature have a clear shared history, and nature is a key part of the Iittala brand. I think we have good reason to call Iittala ” the home of Finnish glass”. I wanted to cloak the wooden structure of the work in a glass shroud, which both protects the glass objects inside and reinforces the idea of the home of Finnish glass. The landmark caricatures a gable roof, which doubles as a place to hang up glass art,” Markunpoika says.
An evolving work of art
While the glass installation is inside a glass house, it may not stay there forever. In the future, the work could become a gallery of sorts, presenting other works of art or glass art. The location of the glass house, however, will remain the same. The installation inside a glass house consists of 1881 mouth-blown glass balls, created by the glassblowers of the factory and students from the artisanal education in glassblowing of Tavastia Vocational College. The work of art will be presented to the City of Hämeenlinna on Iittala’s anniversary.