By Sharen Custer, 62days expert
The glassware found in most modern homes today derives its inspiration from designs pioneered in Scandinavia and Denmark. The keynote of work done by designers in those countries was simplicity of lines, efficiency and practicality, combined with good design. It has influenced many European and American interior designers, such as the English Habitat store in the 1980’s, and helped contribute to its worldwide distribution and popularity.
At the beginning of the 20th century the Finnish glassmaking industry was thriving. Architect Alvar Aalto (1898-1976) designed asymmetrical vases in clear green glass for the Iattala Glass Works; Arttu Brummer (1891-1951), who was the director at the School of Arts and Crafts in Helsinki, designed for the Riihimaki Glass Works, and Timo Sarpaneva (1926-2006) also worked for Iattala. Their work was copied by young glass craftsmen all over Europe.
After WWI Sweden took up the lead in glassmaking in Northern Europe and the Orrefors Glass Works reached its peak. The company speciality was extremely well designed glass for everyday use, which was in itself a great innovation of the time. Its Graal vases (also known as hurricane vases because of the shape) that were developed in 1916 by Simon Gate (1883-1945) are still being made by the company to this very day. Important Graal vases were made by the designer Eva Englund (1937-1998). The name Graal derives from the Holy Grail and the clear glass bowls, often of massive and heavy proportions, were fluidly decorated with cut and etched patterns.
Edvin Ohstrom (1906-1994) worked for Orrefors from 1936 and developed Ariel glass with its embedded air bubbles, which also started a new and very popular trend. Gunnar Cyren (born 1931) developed Pop Age glasses with bands of different colours wrapped around the stem. Other notable Swedish companies were Kosta, which produced cut glass and tableware glass, and Boda, which made glass in progressive modernist designs and eventually merged with Kosta in the 1970’s. In Denmark a famous glassmaker was Jacob Bang (1899-1965) who worked for the Holmegaard Glass Factory. Later on Per Lutken (1916-1998) worked for Hokmegaard as well. Both were and remain major contributors to the influence on the international glass design.
Glass designed by all these makers is available on the collectors market, but the best prices are paid for rare and unusual, limited edition or early pieces. Condition of the items play a central role in its pricing. Any sign of damage or restoration reduced the value significantly.