Sculpted wood by Tapio Wirkkala

“Mr. #Wirkkala… creates wooden blocks by gluing together layer on layer of wood, carefully balancing dark and light streaks. From these blocks he scoops rounded, swirling shapes that can be regarded simply as decorative objects or put to more functional use to hold nuts, cookies or a fruit arrangement.” – @nytimes, 1952.


The artist and designer #TapioWirkkala / @tapiowirkkalarutbrykfoundation (1915–1985) worked with glass, metal and plastics but he excelled in using wood, and #plywood in particular. He was introduced to the material in 1948 through a family friend who owned #Soinneetkni (& Kni), a woodwork company and importer of timber. He was particularly intrigued by airplane propellers created and sculptured with layered veneer wood. With the help of artisan #MarttiLindqvist (1915-1975) he started crafting sculptures that made use of birch, glue and various cuts to create 3D wave patterns. The most exquisite creation of this technique resulted in leaf bowls and dishes, crowned as the “most beautiful object of the year” by the American magazine #HouseBeautiful in 1951. The company was merged with Mahogany Oy in 1973, located on Lauttasaari in Helsinki. .


Wirkkala used the same technique in 1957 at the furniture company @askohuonekalut to create ’rhythm veneer’ tables, where a thin sheet of cut plywood with a wavy pattern was fixed to a table top. They were first exhibited at the Cologne Furniture Fair in 1958 to much acclaim, reinventing intarsia in the process. I recently picked up one of these tables, of which someone had taken a hefty bite. I cut out the largest past, sanded and waxed it, created a frame out of elm and marked it with an Asko badge for provenance. Happy to have saved a part of it.

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