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Bölgeblick Bowl

This is a bowl. It was designed by Aino Aalto and manufactured by Karhula-Iittala Glassworks. It is dated 1932 and we acquired it in 2008. Its medium is pressed glass. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.

Although less well known than her husband, architect and designer Alvar Aalto, Aino Marsio Aalto was a highly talented modern designer in her own right. She received her architecture degree in 1920 from what is now the Helsinki University of Technology, after which she worked for architect Oiva Kallio. In 1923, she joined Alvar Aalto’s practice and, in 1924, they married. In 1935, the Aaltos, together with art historian Nils-Gustav Hahl and the Finnish industrialists Harry and Maire Gullichsen, established the firm Artek to produce and distribute Aalto’s bentwood furniture. Aino Aalto was Managing Director of the firm from 1941 until her death in 1949. A versatile designer, she specialized in interior design but was also active in textiles and ceramics and showed a particular affinity for glass, whether working independently or collaborating with Aalto. She worked as a freelance designer for the Karhula-Iittala Glassworks from 1932 onward.
This bowl is part of the Bölgeblick series, which included a pitcher, tumbler, sugar bowl, creamer, plates, and large bowls. The concentric rings represent the ripples that appear on a body of water’s surface after a pebble has been thrown in. Aalto designed the series as her entry in Karhula-Iittala’s 1932 competition, which was held to promote modern design for art glass and utilitarian wares that were practical and affordable—concerns of particular social and economic consequence in the years following the Great Depression. Aalto’s pressed-glass Bölgeblick pieces were intended as standard everyday ware for the Finnish domestic market. Inexpensive and strong, the thick, stepped bodies were not only durable but also practical from a production standpoint as they were designed for standardized mass production using a mold; the simple circular forms with their horizontal ribs hid imperfections in the lower quality glass employed for such utilitarian goods. The series was available in clear, amber, blue, green, and smoky gray glass.
Praised by critics for its aesthetic simplicity, the series won second prize in the pressed-glass category in the Karhula-Iittala competition. Aalto’s design marked a breakthrough for functionalism in the Finnish glass industry. Bölgeblick went on to win the gold medal at the Milan Triennial in 1936 and was produced well into the 1950s. It was brought back into production by Iittala in the 1980s and is still available today.
The impact and influence of Finnish glass design from the 1930s onward is critical in the history of modern international glass design. Although the museum is fortunate to have an example of Alvar Aalto’s Savoy vase (1936), other Finnish works in the collection are from the postwar period, including three examples of Bölgeblick produced in the 1980s, all in translucent, colorless glass. The regular surfaces of the later production wares do not have the air bubbles and irregularities of the early production example offered here. Bölgeblick wares of this early period are rare, and the color and size of this bowl are particularly so. This bowl represents Aino Aalto’s design concept as an individual, and would add work by an important female designer to the museum’s collection.

This object was donated by Peter Sederholm. It is credited Gift of Peter Sederholm.

Our curators have highlighted 3 objects that are related to this one.

Its dimensions are

H x diam.: 8.9 x 28.3 cm (3 1/2 x 11 1/8 in.)

Cite this object as

Bölgeblick Bowl; Designed by Aino Aalto (Finnish, 1894–1949); Manufactured by Karhula-Iittala Glassworks (Finland); Finland; pressed glass; H x diam.: 8.9 x 28.3 cm (3 1/2 x 11 1/8 in.); Gift of Peter Sederholm; 2008-39-1

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url= |title=Bölgeblick Bowl |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=6 June 2023 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>