Home > Ceramics & Glass, Collecting, Design, People, Things I Like... > Ultima Thule – Tapio Wirkkala for iittala (1968)

Ultima Thule – Tapio Wirkkala for iittala (1968)

My little A recently bought some glasses from Scandium, which I knew I liked when she chose them, but having now had the chance to use them and look at them properly, I’ve come to the conclusion that they are actually very beautiful things indeed…

Designed by Tapio Wirkkala in 1968 for the Finnish Iittala company, the form of the glasses was intended to represent the dripping and refreezing ice drops from the glacial landscapes of Finland. The name Ultima Thule is in fact a latin phrase and was historically used to describe a distant place that was beyond the borders of the known world…

The technique for making these beautiful objects is called the ice glass technique, and Wirkkala himself was involved in developing and perfecting it over a period of many years. The rough surface structure characteristic of this technique are achieved by blowing the glass into a wooden mould, and as I understand it, the skill is to know when to stop blowing as the colours and patterns change as the hot glass burns the wooden surface of the mould as it begins to cool.

The Ultima Thule range encompasses glasses, jugs and bowls and in all variations, there are only three small drops of glass that touch the table, a very nice touch… I suspect we will be getting more of these glasses, which I for one would be very happy about…

As for Mr. Wirkkala himself, well he seems to have been something of a talented all rounder. As well as designing these and many other beautiful objects in glass, he was also accomplished in wood, ceramics, metalware and plastic, and also found time to design the Finnish Markka bank notes in the mid 1950’s…

He certainly looks the part in this photo from the 1980’s…

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