Playful vegetables and fruits flourish in Oiva Toikka’s glass garden

In addition to his popular glass birds, Oiva Toikka also designed luscious-looking glass fruits and vegetables. Some of these whimsical glass sculptures have made a return to Iittala’s collection. It’s worth searching for vintage Toikka glass art, for example, from Franckly’s selection.

Oiva Toikka glass fruits
Nature is strongly present in Oiva Toikka’s glass art.

PROFESSOR, DESIGNER, and artist Oiva Toikka (1931–2019) is known as a glass designer whose work exuded lushness and a bubbly zest for life. Toikka worked as a designer at the Nuutajärvi glass factory in Finland from the 1960s until the 2000s. In his creations, he combined playful shapes, colored glass masses, and various glassmaking techniques.

Toikka often drew inspiration from nature. This is evident in his designs for the Nuutajärvi glass factory, including the popular glass birds and nature-themed tableware collections such as Kastehelmi, Pioni, Fauna, and Flora.

Oiva Toikka Pumpkin
The multicolored Pumpkin charms with its glowing colors.
OIva Toikka art glass
Older Toikka glass sculptures may still have the Nuutajärvi sticker.
Oiva Toikan Onion
The playful objects from the series launched in 1989 are a typical example of Toikka’s boundless imagination. The Onion in the image features green details.

THE SHAPES OF NATURE also inspired the glass fruits he designed. Oiva Toikka initially created the first fruits as unique pieces at the turn of the 1970s and 1980s, and in 1989, Nuutajärvi introduced a small series called the Glass Fruit Garden for sale.

Toikka continued working with the fruit theme in the same year, designing a six-part Fruits collection for Nuutajärvi’s Pro Arte series. In the early 1990s, he created the extensive Glass Vegetable Garden and Vegetables collections (1991 and 1992).

After the early 1990s, Toikka returned to creating glass fruits only as unique pieces. The last unique glass fruits were blown in 2009. In total, his production is known to include about forty different glass fruit models.

Oiva Toikka glass apples
Iittala’s miniature glass apples, fruits, and vegetables offer a more affordable alternative to Toikka art glass. They include a hanging loop, making them suitable for use as Christmas tree ornaments.
Oiva Toikka Lemon
The beautifully yellow Lemon brings a breeze of the Mediterranean to your home.

IN HIS GLASS FRUITS, Toikka was able to utilize his extensive expertise and play with various colors of glass mass, reflections, transparency, dots, stripes, metallic luster surfaces, and surface textures – much like in his better-known birds.

Oiva Toikka’s tenure as a designer at the Nuutajärvi glass factory coincided with a period when the factory employed their own glass designers, who worked alongside glassblowers in the factory's hot glass cabin. The design work was very hands-on, and there was also time for creative material and shape experiments, from which Toikka made the most.

“Perfection is not my goal; the most important thing is to have fun,” is one of Oiva Toikka’s most famous quotes.

For his glass fruits and vegetables, Oiva Toikka chose plump, glass-appropriate shapes. The collection includes familiar Finnish berries such as strawberries and blueberries, as well as more exotic fruits like papayas, avocados, and figs, and everyday vegetables such as onions and peas. The glass fruits were recognizable, but Toikka simplified and adapted the form suitable for glass.

• Read also: Iittala’s new collection is called The Curious Mind of Oiva Toikka >

Oiva Toikka Aubergine and Pumpkin
The Fruits and Vegetables glass sculptures have been enhancing Iittala’s art glass collection since spring 2020. Featured, the Aubergine and Pumpkin.
Oiva Toikka Onion
Toikka often chose plump shapes for his art glass. The Onion features gray details.
Oiva Toikka Grape
The Grape, made from rain-blue glass and light-reflecting luster glass, is a fine example of Oiva Toikka’s distinctive design.

OIVA TOIKKA’S playful and colorful glass art remains popular, and a variety of birds are still widely produced in Iittala’s collection. After a hiatus, the luscious glass fruits also returned to production in the spring of 2020. Each item in the Fruits and Vegetables collection is hand-blown in Finland at the Iittala glass factory. Currently available from Toikka’s glass garden are the Aubergine, Pumpkin, Grape, Zucchini, Onion, and Apple Bottle.

See also:

Oiva Toikka’s designs at Franckly >
Oiva Toikka’s designs at Finnish Design Shop >

Text: Anna-Kaisa Huusko Images: Jose Jompero Thanks to: Antiikkiliike R. Muuri and Kruuna

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