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Tapio Wirkkala (1915-1985) was a multitalented design genius, widely considered a leading figure of modern Finnish industrial art. Wirkkala's wide ranging portfolio spans from glass, furniture and product design to sculpture, city planning, art, graphics and even creating banknotes for the Finnish treasury. As his reputation grew internationally, Wirkala exhibited throughout the world but he was a recluse by nature. His favorite place was a spot so remote within the deep woodlands of middle Finland that helicopters delivered prototypes to his hut since no car could reach him. It was in nature that he found his much loved solitude and the inspiration for forms that industry could produce or artwork could create. Throughout his incredibly productive career, Wirkkala received numerous awards including three gold medals at the Milan Triennale, the Lunning Prize, Pro Finlandia Medal and the Prince Eugen Medal.
In 1946, Wirkkala won his first design award in a competition sponsored by Iittala that would mark a lifelong relationship with lasting effects on his career and the company. As Iittala’s artistic director, Wirkkala’s unique artistic vision helped establish the company’s global reputation. Throughout his legendary career, the uniquely talented artist created more than four hundred glass objects for Iittala, many of which, like the Ultima Thule and Tapio series remain popular today.