The crystal bulb designed by Tapio Wirkkala in 1968 was inspired by the vivacity of the nature in Lapland, the melting ice and flowing water. Fifty years ago, the crystal bulb designed by Wirkkala complemented the range of WIR bulbs offered by Airam. Now after a long wait, this 50-year-old design classic is finally back in production as an LED version, utilizing the best technology available today.
The glass industry has long traditions in Finland. Combined with light, glass-blowing and industrial manufacturing of glass have inspired artists and industrial designers for decades. The interest toward light and Airam originates from the skill of glass-blowing learned at the bulb factory, in the time of industrial mold-blowing.
The WIR bulb designed for Airam by Wirkkala combined with a simplified lamp cord was recognized at the XII Milan Triennial in 1960. Wirkkala’s idea of a light source for a light fixture, i.e. the bulb, that was in itself a beautiful design object was innovative. Having received international renown, Wirkkala continued to collaborate with Airam, but this time with a new idea.
Tapio Wirkkala sought tranquility and seclusion from the Finnish Lapland. “Hold a piece of ice in your hand and find our culture within it; find it in the stone smoothed by flowing waters or the sand shaped by the waves...” Wirkkala had already used these words in 1953 demonstrating his works in the American magazine Interiors. Wirkkala was known for his associations with nature. Fifty years ago, in 1968, a shiny new product was born: the WIR-80 KRS crystal bulb. The crystal-like surface of the bulb disperses light into a shimmering bunch of rays. The design language of the bulb, similarly to many other glass objects created by Wirkkala such as the bottles originally used for Finlandia Vodka or the Ultima Thule glasses, was inspired by the ruggedly beautiful, frozen nature of the north.The sculptural design that is comparable to natural formations had already become a central theme in the works of Wirkkala.
“The crystal bulb is a versatile, timeless, and beautiful everyday product. It is suitable as is for crystal and decorative lamps”, read an advertisement from 1968. The bulb is at its best in light fixtures where the source of light remains visible. Later, the bulb was also produced as more powerful halogen and mercury versions for lighting public spaces.
We are delighted to say that this perpetually young 50-year-old classic is once again available. The new crystal bulb combines Wirkkala’s classic design with new LED technology. The definite benefits of using LEDs include an extended lifespan and low energy consumption.
In addition to the crystal bulb, in the spirit of Wirkkala’s original combination of a bulb and light fixture, Airam also offers Wirkkala’s crystal bulb as the fresh K2-80 KRS lamp ensemble. In addition to the bulb, the light fixture comprises a 3.1 meters long lamp cord, bulb holder, and a ceiling canopy in brushed steel. The K2 range designed for the WIR bulb now consists of five different light fixtures: K2-131, K2-135, K2-142, K2-80, and K2-140.
As an accessory to the decorative light fixtures, Airam now also offers a convenient 3-part ceiling canopy installation kit. It is excellently suited for guiding the placement of a group of crystal lamps. Using the ceiling canopy, its arms spread the cords for a group of three lamps at a visually satisfying distance from each other.