The founding of the Iittala company is said to date to 1881, when a glass factory was founded by Swede Petrus Magnus Abrahamsson. The first workforce had to be brought from Sweden due to the lack of skilled glassblowers in Finland.
Ultima Thule Series, 38cm Aalto Bowl, Aalto Premium Serving Tray, Kivi
In 1917, the company was bought up by timber refinery company A. Ahlström, who also owned the Karhula glass factory. These combined to become the Karhula-Iittala glass factory up until the 1950s. At first the factory specialized mostly in bottles for chemists and for holding lamp oil, though there was also limited production of domestic items.
Entrance to Iittala’s ‘Into the Woods” exhibit, well used molds at the Iittala glass museum
In the 1920s and 1930s, the company expanded into more experimental and artistic ventures, as well as producing more household products. One of the first major successes was the glassware designed by Aino Aalto(left), followed soon after by the glassware of her husband, Alvar Aalto.
Alvar Aalto made waves in the 1930s when the now iconic Aalto vase(above and right) was first presented at the Paris World Exhibition. With this mysterious form he made a revolutionary statement against industrial production that failed to meet human needs.
During the Winter War and the Continuation War, parts of the Second World War, production came to a halt due to shortages of materials and workforce. Production restarted in 1946, Iittala enjoyed continued success up until the oil crisis of the mid-1970s, when it had to cut back on its operations. Sales of their products in Finland were also continuously under competition from the ever growing import of foreign glassware.
In 1987, Ahlström sold Iittala to the Wärtsilä company, which owned the greater share of the Nuutajärvi glass factory in Urjala. Iittala was combined with the Nuutajärvi glass factory to become the Iittala-Nuutjärvi company. They were bought by the Hackman company in 1990 – and at the same time Hackman also bought other housewares manufacturers, Arabia and Rörstrand-Gustavsberg. Since 2007, Iittala is 97 percent owned by Fiskars, while its operative management holds 3 percent of the shares.
As well as producing some of the finest glass wares in the world, Iittala is able to outfit practically all items required for a great cooking and serving experience. Below are a few of the metal wares that they currently offer.
Neo Casserole, Collective Tools salt and pepper mills, Citterio 98 series cutlery, cast iron Tools Casserole
For a long time, Iittala has been part of an ongoing revolution. This is based on the belief that all human beings can make conscious choices in everyday life. Choosing objects that will last in design and quality will please our senses and create harmony in our everyday lives. Fortunately, this is also a choice for a more sustainable society, and against buying short-lived things destined for the rubbish bin._
Iittala factory in Finland
Less is more. Mies van der Rohe’s legendary statement has become even more relevant to our planet today. If it’s relevant to you, you might want to follow Iittala and refuse throwawayism.
Making your way to Iittala’s headquarters is well worth it if you’re in the area. The 9:19am train from Helsinki, arriving at Iittala at 10:49, has been selected as the most convenient departure. Travelers on this train will be met at Iittala by a guide, who will show them to the Glass Centre. There is a range of alternatives on offer here, including tours of the glassworks, a visit to the Glass Museum, to the Glass Fantasy special exhibition, to the Primitivism Exhibition or the local shops. Restaurant and café services are also available. The services of the guide at Iittala are free. Other services, such as the Glass Museum, require payment.