Iittala’s Virva lamp combines a sculptural form with ambient lighting

Iittala launched the Virva lamp, designed by Matti Klenell, in autumn 2019. Born as a collaboration between the Swedish designer and the Iittala glassworks, Virva adds a touch of Klenell’s soft playfulness to Iittala’s lighting range.

Iittala Virva table lamp
The name of Virva refers to the Finnish word virvatuli, will-o’-the-wisp in English. According to folklore, will-o’-the-wisps are fires or other light sources that are found in quiet, remote areas like swamps and lakes.

IN 2019, MATTI KLENELL celebrates his 10 years of collaborating with the Finnish design brand Iittala. Known for products like Nappula candleholders and Lempi tumblers created for the brand, Klenell’s designs are often playful, innovative and deeply rooted in the Nordic design philosophy. The latest collaboration is the sculptural Virva lamp.

When designing the Virva table lamp, Matti Klenell delved into the archives of the Iittala glass factory to explore the different methods of decorating and moulding glass. Klenell was particularly fascinated by the many embossed glass products he found in the archives – he felt inspired by how the structured surfaces reflected light. When the Virva lamp is turned on, its delicate, sophisticated embossing creates beautiful patterns around the lamp as well.

Matti Klenell
Swedish Matti Klenell (b. 1972) has designed several collections for Iittala: Birds by Klenell glass birds (2010), Lempi tumblers (2012), Nappula candleholders and votives (2012) as well as Virva table lamps (2019).
Iittala Virva table lamp
The embossed Virva lamp creates a pleasant, ambient light. When the light is turned off, Virva is like a glass sculpture.

The raised pattern of Virva’s mouth-blown glass dome has been created by blowing glass into an engraved mould with each individual line engraved by hand. The embossing also plays together both with the light shining through the glass as well as Virva’s harmonious shades. Two soft, muted colours from Iittala’s extensive colour library were chosen for Virva lamps: linen and dark grey.

The raised pattern of Virva’s glass dome has been created by blowing glass into an engraved mould with each individual line engraved by hand.

Iittala is known especially for its expertise in coloured glass. In Iittala’s products, the colour is not painted on but achieved by adding powdered metal oxides directly into the molten glass mixture. Producing coloured glass products requires a lot of skill and know-how in all stages of production.

Iittala Virva table lamp
Virva has a dome made of glass and a base in powder-coated aluminium. Each Virva lamp is mouth-blown in Finland at the Iittala glass factory.
Iittala Virva table lamp
When designing Virva, Matti Klenell studied Iittala’s glass heritage, with particular focus on the patterns and indentations that have decorated Iittala’s glass pieces throughout the decades.

In creating a product using mouth-blown coloured glass, it is particularly important to take into account the qualities of the material, not to mention the many steps required to achieve the desired result. It is crucial that the designer and craftsmen can cooperate. “Dialogue is essential when making great design”, Matti Klenell has stated.

Matti Klenell – 10 Years of Dialogue with Iittala

Iittala & Arabia Design Centre is hosting an exhibition dedicated to Klenell’s work, starting in November 2019. The retrospective, titled Matti Klenell - 10 Years of Dialogue with Iittala, is open 16.11.2019–15.03.2020 at the Iittala & Arabia Design Centre, Hämeentie 135 A, Helsinki, Finland.

Matti Klenell's products

Iittala
Virva table lamp
Iittala
Nappula candelabra
Iittala
Lempi glass
Iittala
Nappula candleholder
Iittala
Virva table lamp
Iittala
Nappula candleholder
Iittala
Nappula candleholder
Iittala
Nappula candelabra

See also:

Iittala's Virva table lamp >
All Iittala products  >

Text: Emmi Ratilainen Images: Iittala

Previous story
Next story