On Finland’s Magical Glass Trail
Glass design has a long history in Finnish culture – take a trip on the glass trail and immerse yourself in innovative art, and a little retail therapy.
The glass trail winds from Helsinki to the north via Riihimäki and Iittala to Nuutajärvi or through Fiskars to Muurla. It’s a year-round experience not to be missed – you can visit glassworks and studios, museums and exhibitions, watch glassblowers and artists at work, pick up souvenirs from the outlets and galleries and get to know Finland’s rich history of world-famous glass designs and their groundbreaking, individualistic creators.
Helsinki: design is a lifestyle
For many a Finn, life without design glass seems almost unimaginable. For a non-Finn to understand this, it’s best to start with a visit to Anu Penttinen’s Gallery Nounou situated in Helsinki’s design district Punavuori. Like many Finnish designers, she works for Iittala, Finland’s leading glass design company whose glassware is present in virtually every Finnish household. A visit to its flagship store on the Esplanade (Pohjoisesplanadi 25) is a must, as well as an excursion to the Design Museum.
Another key trip is a visit to Helsinki’s other design district, Arabianranta. Here sits the elegantly designed Arabia Center, which houses Iittala’s headquarters and its outlet, the Arabia Museum, and a host of other designer shops.
Riihimäki: Finnish glass in all its glory
For more profound and captivating insights into the 300-year-old history of Finnish glass production and glass art, visit the Glass Museum Riihimäki. The museum also organizes various exhibitions of Finnish and foreign glass artists, as well as concerts, flea and glass markets. And don’t miss the nearby glassblowing district “Hyttikortteli” with its historic houses. Go and take look at hot shop and gallery Lasismi in the old glass factory and witness the delicate art of glassblowing first-hand.
Iittala: the heart of glass manufacture
The village of Iittala gave the glassware producer Iittala their name. On the glass hill, at the Iittala Glass Centre, tour Iittala’s main plant, watch the making of its signature glassware, stroll through the delightful museum that displays legendary classics or shop at the outlet.
Nuutajärvi: 220 years glass as lifestyle
The glass village of Nuutajärvi with its picturesque buildings is home to Finland’s oldest glassworks and largest community of independent glass designers, glassblowers and a glass school. Check out their hotshops, studios and galleries like Gallery NuGO. Maybe try your hand at glassblowing yourself.
Participate in the 220th anniversary celebration of the Nuutajärvi plant where Iittala and its formidable glass craftsmen produce glass art. The festivities include a summer exhibition with contemporary glass and ceramic artists, music week, flea market, children’s workshop, summer festival, jazz concert with dinner and a glass auction. A must is a visit to the factory’s marvelous museum by Kaj Franck. Andyou can even spend the night in the village.
Fiskars: center for art and design
In the romantic village of Fiskars you find plenty of design glass, for instance, in Gallery Sirius and in the Co-operative Onoma or the Glass studio Blu Bianco where Tarmo Maaronen, who worked with the two Finnish glass masters Kaj Franck and Oiva Toikka, presents his creations, organizes courses for glassblowing and lets you watch him work.
Muurla: Stylish outlet, stylish glass
Outwardly unassuming, the stylishly furnished outlet of the glass works Muurla is a gem little known to most tourists. You will find reasonably priced eateries along with a wealth of glassware and interior decoration by such renowned designers as Ristomatti Ratia and Jukka Rintala.
Full of interesting contrasts, such as the four seasons, the Midnight Sun and winter darkness, urban and rural, East and West.