Tapio Wirkkala

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Wirkkala in his studio around 1960.
Tapio Wirkkala style puukko.

Tapio Wirkkala (2 June 1915, Hanko – 19 May 1985) was a Finnish designer and sculptor, a major figure of post-war design. His work ranges from plastic ketchup bottles and metalware to glass, ceramics and plywood in a range of styles. He designed the Finnish markka banknotes introduced in 1955. His range was immense, designing glassware, stoneware, jewelry, and furniture for mass production, as well as individual sculptures in several media.

Among his most famous works have been the design for the Finlandia vodka bottle (1970-2000) and for Iittala's Ultima Thule set of kitchen glasses. Both glassware items feature a dripping icicle look, and in the case of Iittala's popular glassware set it took thousands of hours to develop a glassblowing technique that would produce the effect.

Wirkkala did much of his initial design work using a traditional Finnish carving knife, the puukko. Wirkkala designed his own version of the knife. The Tapio Wirkkala Puukko was built by Hackman Cutlery and marketed by Brookstone in the US in the early 70's.

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