Tapio Wirkkala’s glass works are showcased in the Murano Glass Museum in conjunction with this year’s Venice Biennale. Artist and designer Tapio Wirkkala (1915–1985) was an iconic figure in Finnish industrial design, whose works captivated audiences in the 1950s and 1960s, creating a foundation for the international success of Finnish design. His close relationship with Italy had its roots in the mid-1960s, when he began collaborating with the Venini glassworks.
The exhibition has been produced as a collaboration between the Espoo Museum of Modern Art EMMA, Tapio Wirkkala Rut Bryk Foundation and the Murano Glass Museum. EMMA’s website explains the background of the exhibition:
‘Wirkkala discovered the different possibilities offered by a coloured glass mass that could combine incalmo, half filigree and murrine. For example incalmo technique is applied in Wirkkala’s Bolle bottles and Piatto di Tapio plates.
The exhibition’s curators, designer Harri Koskinen and architect Marco Romanelli, create a dialogue between Italian and Finnish viewpoints and the tradition of glass design through Wirkkala’s works.
“It has been great to understand how comprehensively Tapio’s works and Tapio as a person influences Italians. In the late 50’s his achievements were celebrated several times by the Italian media, hence he still has a strong presence in Italian design culture”, states the Curator Harri Koskinen.’
With its clean-lined, elegant bulb made of opal glass and simple, black lighting cable, the WIR lighting fixture, designed by Tapio Wirkkala for Airam, was an award-winning innovation. In 1968, the range was complemented by a crystal lamp inspired by special elements of northern nature: melting ice and running water.
Of Wirkkala’s designs for Airam, the Murano Glass Museum’s exhibition presents the luminaires K2-131, K2-105 with WIR bulbs and K2 with KRS crystal bulbs. Airam has reintroduced these lamps to its range with LED technology.
Pictures by Harri Koskinen.