Tapio Wirkkala


Tapio Wirkkala (1915 – 1985) was a Finnish designer and sculptor, a major influence on post-war design in the Nordics. His work ranges from plastic and metalware to glass, ceramics and plywood in a range of styles. His range was immense, designing glassware, stoneware, jewellery, and furniture for mass production, as well as individual sculptures in several media. His wife was Rut Bryk, a designer working mainly with ceramics but also other media and materials.

Among his most famous works are the designs for the legendary Finlandia vodka bottle and for Iittala’s Ultima Thule set of kitchen glasses, both featuring a dripping icicle look. Wirkkala was much inspired by nature and many of his works have an organic look.

Wirkkala did much of his initial design work using a traditional Finnish carving knife, the puukko and he even designed his own version of the knife. The Tapio Wirkkala Puukko was manufactured by Hackman Cutlery and marketed by Brookstone in the US in the early-1970s.


  • First prize bank note design – The Bank of Finland 1947
  • Hundreds of private exhibitions 1951-2009
  • The Lunning Prize, USA 1951
  • Awarded 4 times in the Milan Triennale – 50s and 60s
  • First prize at the World ́s Fair in Brussels 1958
  • Pro Finlandia Medal 1955
  • Dr H.C. Royal College of Art, London 1971


  • Bill Designing Competition of Bank of Finland 1947
  • Grand Prix, Milan 1951
  • Lunning Prize 1951
  • Grand Prix, Milan 1954
  • Order of the Lion of Finland 1955
  • 1st place, the World Fair in Brussels 1957
  • Society of Industrial Arts'in Medal of the Year 1958
  • Grand Prix and Gold Medal, Milan 1960
  • Domus Golden Obelisk, Milan 1963
  • Honorary Royal Designer of Industry, London 1964
  • Gold Medal of the President of Italy, Faenza International Ceramics Competition 1966
  • Premio Internazionale Vicenza 1967
  • Honorary doctorate, Royal College of Arts, London 1971
  • Prince Eugen Medal, Stockholm 1980