Designer and sculptor Timo Sarpaneva (1926-2006) was an internationally known Finnish designer.
Glass artist, designer in clay, metal fiber, and wood, and visionary Sarpaneva has worked in glass for more than half a century distinguishing himself as an innovator andindependent thinker.
He became famous in the mid-1950s with his spectacular success at the Milan triennials, which includes a Grand Pirx award in 1954. In the same year the American magazine House beautiful named his " Orchid " glass vase for their “Most beautiful object of the year”.
That vase - In a slightly updated version - is still in production at the Iittala glassworks: while it looks beautiful as a vase for a single orchid, it is usually referred to simply as a glass sculpture because it is so much more than just a vase.
Sarpaneva went on to make a number of pieces in the same design path– “ Kayak ”, the “ Lancet ” vases, and “ Sleeping bird ” among them – and they too are considered classics.
Throughout his career Sarpaneva has been inspired by the incredible Finnish landscape with the extreme weather conditions, endless day in the summer months, and dark winters that transform lakes and forests with snow and ice.
He's brought the nature in the glass industry with brilliant inventions such as the carved and charred wooden moulds that he used for a series of sculptures, some of them up to a meter high, known as the “ Finlandia sculptures ”. The moulds were prepared so as to leave the impression of scored bark on the surface, a texture never before seen on glass.
Since it became typical of his production and a design element associated to his name, Sarpaneva thought of adapting this technique for industrial applications, using to produce a frosted surface on a vodka bottle and schnapps glasses.
During the 1980's Sarpaneva produced his “ Claritas ” vases: a series comprising 66 different types: «I wanted to seal bands of eternity onto the silence of glass. I wanted to deposit this fast-fading present moment there, in all its fragile beuty».
Also in the 1980s came his “ Glass age ” collection, rock-like sculptures weighing hundreds of kilos in clear or green-tined glass, looking like being a result of some explosion. With evocative titles such as “ Demons ”, “ Panther ”, “ Winds ”, and “ Memory ”, they are artworks full of energy, described by Sarpaneva as «Art that gives us space inside the mind and breaks the fetter of dogmatic thinking».
Still very creative in his seventies, Sarpaneva reinvented himself by preparing an exhibition in Helsinki for the year 2000, called " Millennium Meum" (My Millennium) . In it he revisited some of his old ideas, this time working together with Murano glass maestros , in particular Pino Signoretto.
This collaboration led Sarpaneva to create new beautiful artworks with a fresh sensitivity.
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