Inspiration, Interiors

The legend of Ultima Thule

Iittala Ultima Thule
Iittala Ultima Thule
Iittala Ultima Thule

They say legends are born, not made, and this is certainly true when it comes to Finnish designer Tapio Wirkkala.

Across his career, this multi-talented and innovative artist had a portfolio spanning everything from glass, furniture and product design to sculpture, city planning, art, graphics and even banknotes for Finland’s treasury.

Yet it is his four decades working with world-renowned Finnish glass manufacturer Iittala that has given him a very special place in many people’s homes as well as their hearts.

To celebrate fifty years since the creation of his iconic Ultima Thule series the brand, which is one of my personal favourites, has introduced four of the pieces in colour for the very first time.

The classic tealight candleholder, bowl and pitcher set will now be available in ‘rain’, a moody shade of blue that evokes the very unique atmosphere of the Finnish landscape Wirkkala loved.

Inspired by a mythical ice covered island located far north of Lapland, beyond the borders of the known world, Wirkkala pushed the skills of the expert glassblowers at the Iittala glass factory to their very limits when creating this collection.

After nearly a thousand hours of working together, they finally produced the unusual organic surface by burning a wooden mould with molten glass.

With its distinctive Arctic feel and designed to resemble the melting ice, every piece has a round base supported by three little peaks that appear to float above the surface.

Handmade products have always been an important element of Nordic style, not just in furniture making but in glass and ceramics too, so when finally launched in 1968 Ultima Thule was an immediate success.

The following year, and still to this day, Finnair use the glassware for first-class passengers on its Helsinki to New York long haul flights.

Over the past fifty years, thanks to their timeless usefulness, these simple and practical items have become a pillar of Iittala.

With contemporary Nordic design founded on these same principles, the present goes hand in hand with the past, and a new generation, of which I’m included, finds the Ultima Thule series as progressive and stunningly beautiful as ever.

Products are due to go on sale this month, but in the meantime if you’d like to find out more visit the Iittala website.

All images courtesy of Iittala.

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12 thoughts on “The legend of Ultima Thule”

  1. Those anniversary pieces are just oh so stunning – i love the style as its really timeless and can fit within any style if over the years one fancy a change – love those x

  2. Stunning. I love these in this beautiful shade of blue. They would look fab in my bedroom. Iittala is one of my favourite brands. The craftsmanship is just beautiful. No wonder Ultima Thule is a classic.

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