The perfectly timeless Kartio

Kaj Franck's Kartio glasses are a prime example of sustainable design.

The perfectly timeless Kartio | Design Stories
The Kartio glass in ultramarine is part of Iittala’s Finland 100 collection.

KAJ FRANCK designed the stackable Kartio glasses to be paired with Kilta, the predecessor of the Teema collection. The Kartio glasses are an example of perfect balance between material and geometric form. Franck paid a lot of attention to proportions: the stackable glasses were not merely beautiful, but also enabled efficient use of space in small city homes.

The perfectly timeless Kartio| Design Stories
The Teema and Kartio series are the best-known works of Kaj Franck (1911-1989).

“When we say beautiful, in a sense other than function, logic, and perfection of style, we sometimes use the word timeless to express our highest appreciation for the concept of beauty,” said Kaj Franck himself, and he would certainly not mind if we claimed that Kartio represents the very essence of timelessness.

The perfectly timeless Kartio | Design Stories
The Kartio tumblers are stackable and do not take up much space in the cupboard.

Franck designed a handsome series of pressed glass in the 1950s and 1970s. The conventional compression technique in which the glass is pressed between two molds allowed the interior and exterior of the glass to be shaped differently. The smoothly contoured Kartio, born in 1958, was Franck's second press model.

To Kaj Franck colors replaced decorative elements.

“I am personally stimulated by assignments with a tight technical or price limit. Perhaps that's why I like designing pressed glass, despite it being a very slow and arduous process,” the designer admitted.

The perfectly timeless Kartio | Design Stories
The Kartio jug compliments the Teema plates and Essence glasses perfectly.

In the beginning of the 1950s, it was difficult to produce pressed glass of satisfactory quality, which is why the bulk of the pressed glass production was colored. Franck was always very particular about color and searched at length for the right tones because earlier ones had not proven homogeneous in serial production. He studied, for example, in Naples and Murano in Venice, the manufacturing and use of glass dyes in connection with different manufacturing techniques. To him colors replaced decorative elements. The stackable Kartio glasses glowing in fabulous colors are still a model example of sustainable design.

Discover the Kartio collection >

Text: Anna Korpi-Kyyny (Source: Kaj Franck, Teema ja muunnelmia) Pictures: Iittala

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