Glass designer Oiva Toikka has always worked with a smile on his face. His career started during the golden era of Finnish functional design, but he never followed the mainstream style. Instead, his path has been full of wild shapes, colours, and experiments. Toikka isn’t a perfectionist at all, but rather an explorer of form and colour. His style has even been described as baroque. Toikka’s complicated compositions, installations, glass cubes, birds, and sculptures well up from an endless imagination. He loves testing, and he especially loves it when things don’t go as planned.
Toikka’s work is at the same time easy to grasp and outspoken. In his everyday objects he brought hippie aesthetics and pop art to Finnish design. His Kastehelmi (dew drop), Flora, and Fauna tableware sets are made out of pressed glass and borrow their theme from nature. Lollipop sculptures comment directly on pop art. The award-winning artist has also worked as an art teacher in Lapland and as a set and costume designer for opera and theatre. His sets are gesamtkunstwerke, through which one can step into his playful visual world.
Toikka keeps chattering, and describes his work as blabber that has taken on a physical form. He loves teamwork for that reason: it is all about dialogue. I met the charming Toikka in his apartment in Helsinki. He lives alone but is hardly ever lonely—friends and neighbours visit him regularly. We sat at his kitchen table, steaming plates of porridge with buckthorn jam in front of us, and together explored the shapes of his past.
This interview with Scandinavian glass art designer Oiva Toikka, was originally featured in Apartamento issue #14, back in 2014. Oiva passed away at the age of 87 this past April 22, 2019. Our thoughts and condolences go out to his family and friends.