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Tapio Wirkkala

tapio wirkkala portrait

Born in 1915 in Hanko, Finland, Tapio Wirkkala was one of the country’s most prominent—and most versatile—designers of the 20th century. A sculptor and designer, he gained fame with his glass tableware for Iittala, which included his 1968 Ultima Thule collection, the manufacturing of which took thousands of hours to perfect the glass-blowing technique needed to create the illusion of melting icicles. Wirkkala also left his mark as a graphic designer on the Finnish banknotes and was the artistic director of the University of Arts and Design in Helsinki for many years. He died in 1985.

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