Remembering Oiva Toikka

It is with great sadness that we learn of the loss of Professor Oiva Toikka on the morning of April 22, 2019. He passed peacefully in a nursing home at the age of 87. The renowned artist was born in Viipuri, Finland, now a part of Russia. He was originally trained in ceramics, but soon found his passion in the medium of glass. Toikka began working for Arabia in the 1950s and earned a spot as an in-house designer at the Nuutajärvi glass factory in 1963. During his long and successful career, he designed many popular series of glassware, including Kastehelmi (Dewdrop), Pioni, and Flora.

Toikka is most well-known for his namesake collection of glass birds. He designed more than 500 birds since the collection first took flight in 1972. Some are based on actual species found in nature, while others were hatched purely from his limitless imagination. Each handcrafted and mouth-blown, the one-of-a-kind pieces have become cherished collectibles not only for Finns, but lovers of glass art and Finnish design worldwide. Toikka worked closely with the blowers who brought his designs to life, showcasing his extensive knowledge of the properties and possibilities of glass, as well as his enthusiasm for collaboration and teamwork.

Toikka is known for numerous other unique works that are now on display in prestigious museums around the world. His work has also been recognized by awards of high honor, including the Kaj Franck Prize for design, the Swedish Prince Eugen Medal awarded to Nordic artists, and the Pro Finlandia Medal given to Finnish creatives by the President.

While we will remember Toikka for his timeless contributions to the world of design, those who knew him personally will deeply miss his sense of humor and warm demeanor. Our hearts go out to those whose lives he touched in his long and full life, and we join them in mourning the loss of an influential creator and remarkable person.