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DESIGNER: Oiva Toikka
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Q & A
Iittala Birds have become a phenomenon all over the world. It all started in 1970s when the Finnish glass artist Oiva Toikka designed the first glass birds. While Toikka is continuing with his new Birds collection, Iittala is introducing a new generation of Iittala Birds in 2007, designed by the Italian artist and jewelry designer Giorgio Vigna. Birds in Vigna Collection are very distinguished and sculptural.
All Iittala Birds are hand made and mouth blown in Nuutajärvi, one of the two glass factories of the Iittala Group in Finland. Mr Vigna first visited Nuutajärvi glass factory since 1998 when he was teaching at an international glass jewelry workshop there. Contacts with Iittala have now resulted in launch of the Vigna Collection of Iittala Birds. Vigna is proud of following the footsteps of Finnish designers, Timo Sarpaneva and Tapio Wirkkala, who have earlier come to Murano, Venice, to design works of art in glass. Now Vigna is heading to the North.
Passion for glass
Giorgio Vigna is fascinated about the glass as material. In his birds Vigna has used the expressive power of glass in a highly sophisticated manner:
- The strength of the birds lies in their primal, elemental drop shape, Vigna explains.
- Imagine a blowpipe taking the gather out of the kiln: a drop will naturally evolve in the crucible, then it will be worked out, generated step by step, phase by phase – and finally – a creative drop is born.
Vigna’s birds are like compact, linear sculptures that evoke the bone structure of living birds.
- The different layers bring up the intensive effects of the thick glass. Light is playing on the polished surface and shining through the layers.
- The layers of glass remind of the beautiful skin feathers of real birds.
Some of the birds have an open structure and the air circulates freely inside them, like the birds were really breathing:
- Still, these birds are like abstract creatures descended into our world from a land full of dreams and imagination.
Vigna Collection is a highly contemporary artistic interpretation of the animal world, crafted in glass.
Each of the three different bird species has its own character, its own way of behaving:
Circoli Birds have an intense presence through the thick layers of glass. They are elegant but also very dynamic. They are asymmetrical, having a different form in head and body which makes this family very expressive.
The Circoli Birds have a single color on the surface, but the skillful interweaving of opaque and transparent glass creates a gentle play of light and color. This leads to surprising details in the straight cut of the tail: it reveals a contemporary interpretation of the traditional Murano glass craftsmanship. The crystal glass inside looks like ice water.
According to their name, Colori Birds play with different, refined colors. The airy inside calls in the light to shine in the spectrum of colors. The form of Color is symmetrical, well-defined. The shapes of the body and the head are exact replicas, only in different scales. These sleek, playful torpedoes you can easily imagine darting through the water.
In Contrasti birds you will discover the mysterious interplay of light and shade. Strong contrasts are made by playing with transparent, opaque and black glass masses. Contrasting colors reflect the inner and outer space and add more dimensions into the objects.
Birth of the birds by craftsmen
When designing the birds, Giorgio Vigna has followed the old tradition still in use both in Murano and in Nuutajärvi: first sketches are made with charcoal or pen on paper, later drafted by chalk on the factory floor, accompanied with gestures and intensive talk in Italian.
Vigna’s Birds are not born at once, many stages of further treatment are needed before the bird get its own character: first the birds have to be cooled down slowly. Then the tail and beak needs to be cut and polished, very carefully. Every step takes time and skills – and a good eye for the vision of the artist.
Collaboration between Vigna and the glass blowers in Nuutajärvi has been extremely pleasant:
- I’ve really enjoyed working with these craftsmen, they are so calm and they work very focused. And the place in the middle of the forest besides the lake is – I guess – very typical Finnish.
As glass is an organic and alive material Vigna points out that, after decades working with glass, there is always a kind of magic to follow the production:
- Each time it’s a miracle to see how the primal shapes, coming out of the hot oven, become the creative drop generated in the crucible. And step by step the birds – the glass jewels are born.