Good News from Wed, 18 July, 2012:

Leather trousers – code name for a classic

It takes 16 hours to manufacture a hand-blown vase. Each vase is unique. It takes 16 hours to manufacture a hand-blown vase. Each vase is unique.
”Eskimoerindens skinnbuxa” (Eskimo woman’s leather trousers) was the Swedish code name that designer Alvar Aalto gave the 1936 drawings he sent to a competition looking for entries for the Paris World’s Fair. The entry consisted of vases and dishes sketched in pencil, white ink and chalk on coloured paper. Aalto’s entry won the main prize, and thus the classic Aalto Vase was born.

Whether the vase’s shape is based on an Eskimo woman’s leather trousers or the shorelines of Finnish lakes, it is the most well-known and popular Finnish glass object in the world. The product, also known as the Savoy Vase, can today be found in almost every Finnish home and is part of the permanent exhibitions of several museums around the world, including New York’s MoMa.

Throughout their nearly 80-year history, the glass vases have been manufactured at the Iittala Glass Factory near Tampere. Sheila Riikonen, a Filipino who has resided in Finland for 15 years, visited the factory last May.

— ”Simplicity is beauty” embodies Iittala’s products. My most recent Iittala purchase was the Savoy Vase in dark lilac which I gave my mum as a birthday present – it was on sale, so I bought one for myself, too, says Riikonen who works for web-based service company PlanMill.

Alvar Aalto never defined the purpose of the vase. However, the drawings that Aalto sent in to the competition included notes in which the designer suggested that the vases and bowls be used for keeping fruit or cacti or for serving food. Riikonen has a few tips of her own for the vase.

— I put flowers, such as tulips, in it sometimes. When it’s empty my 8-year-old daughter keeps her pencils in it. And my teenage son puts the remote for the TV in it when I’m not looking.

Watch a video of how an Aalto Vase is made.