It isn’t easy to pin down Scandinavian art glass. Like the people of the region itself, Scandinavia’s art glass is diverse and pioneering. Some artists have become famous for their blown and cased glass, others are noted for their carved and cut pieces, and a few organizations, like the Swedish company Orrefors, have done it all.

Scandinavia became a hub for glass production in the early 20th century, with Sweden at the center. Though some of the most collectible Scandinavian glass comes from the postwar period, most notably the 1950s and 1960s, it was earlier innovations made by designers such as Simon Gate, Edvard Hald, Vicke Lindstrand, and Knut Bergqvist that put northern Europe on the art-glass map.

Sweden was always at the forefront of the Scandinavian art glass scene, due in large part to its stable economy throughout the first part of the 20th century. Right around the turn of the 20th century, Kosta, a Swedish company, began producing glass in the Art Nouveau style. This etched cameo glass was all the rage for about two decades before Kosta embraced Art Deco.

Orrefors, on the other hand, was founded in 1898 but made its mark on the glass industry in 1916 when Bergqvist invented the “Graal” technique, in which clear glass was used to encase an acid-etched design to create what appear to be decorations inside the piece. Hald would later use the Graal technique to make his paperweight fish vases, while Gate produced nude figures.

In the ’20s, Lindstrand, who was known for a variety of artistic endeavors including ceramics, textiles, and paintings, joined Orrefors. There, Lindstrand used rock-crystal engraving techniques to make his highly collectible Pearl Fisherman vases. Lindstrand’s designs while at Orrefors, and later when he joined Kosta, are some of the most popular Scandinavian art-glass items.

Edvin Ohrstrom was a member of the Orrefors design group in the 1930s. He helped engineer Ariel, a sandblasting technique that created corridors inside the glass. These air pockets could be colored, making the technique perfect for decorative purposes. In one vase from 1935, for example, a pair of mermaids appear to swim beneath a surface of faded aquamarine blue.

Despite the successes of Swedish art glass prior to World War II, the vintage postwar work is today considered the most collectible. In 1950, Lindstrand joined Kosta, where he be...

Postwar Scandinavian art glass wasn’t confined to Sweden. In Denmark, a firm called Holmegaard created plastic-like glass that was often colorful and bright. In Finland, Riihimäki released a great deal of popular blown glass in the pop-art styles of the 1950s and ’60s. These cheerful pieces were affordable at the time but have become highly prized today for those trying to recreate the quintessential retro home.

Another popular Finnish company was Karhula-Iittala, led by internationally acclaimed artists Tapio Wirkkala and Timo Sarpaneva. Many of their pieces, which ranged from vases to candlestick holders, were ruggedly textured to reflect the flinty lifestyle of Scandinavia. In fact, the natural environment as represented by water, ice, plants, and wood is a pervasive theme in countless examples of Scandinavian art glass.

About our sources | Got something to add?

▼ Expand to read the full article ▼

Best of the Web (“Hall of Fame”)

Loetz.com

Loetz.com

This fabulous site is a guide to Bohemian art glass makers from 1885 to 1920. Loetz was the premier Bohemian glass … [read review or visit site]

The Mid Century Modernist

The Mid Century Modernist

Stephen Coles' really visual blog dedicated to the Modernist era of design from 1940 to 1970 (aka Mid-century Moder… [read review or visit site]

Cloud Glass Reference Site

Cloud Glass Reference Site

Chris and Val Stewart’s impressive attempt to create a complete catalogue of all known cloud glass, a decorative … [read review or visit site]

Herman Miller Consortium Collection

Herman Miller Consortium Collection

This website showcases several hundred pieces of furniture, held by thirteen museums, that were designed for Herman… [read review or visit site]

EamesCollector.com

EamesCollector.com

Steven Cabella's personal homage to Charles and Ray Eames. This site is as clean and visually appealing as the Eame… [read review or visit site]

Antique Glass Salt and Sugar Shaker Club

Antique Glass Salt and Sugar Shaker Club

The heart of this website, home of the Antique Glass Salt and Sugar Shaker Club, is the Identification Project, whe… [read review or visit site]

Work of Charles and Ray Eames

Work of Charles and Ray Eames

This Library of Congress microsite is an overview of the postwar modern design work of Charles (1907-78) and Ray (1… [read review or visit site]

Classic Modern

Classic Modern

Get a taste of how homes were lit in the 50s, 60s, and 70s with the Danish retro-style lighting designs featured on… [read review or visit site]



Clubs & Associations

Discussion Forums

Other Great Reference Sites

Most watched eBay auctions    

Rare Signed Vintage Warff Kosta Boda Glass Mushroom Art Glass Paperweight #97322Holmegaard Otto Brauer Gulvvase 10" Kingfisher Blue1960s Riihimaki / Riihimaen Lasi Blue VaseOrrefors Sweden Crystal Simon Gate "thousand Windows" Modernist Signed Vase CrsKosta Boda Crystal Signed Lindstrand Sommerso Cased Pear Perfume Scent Bottle NrRiihimaki Green Glass Tulppaani Vase Riihimaen Lasi 70s Retro Finland VintageLeerdam Unica Art Glass Vase Fioris MeydamIittala Set Two 9” Arkipelago Candle Holders ~ Timo Sarpaneva / Finland Iittala Set Two 5.5” Arkipelago Candle Holders ~ Timo Sarpaneva / Finland2pcs Signed Per Lutken Smoke Gray Mid Century Modern Holmegaard Glass Bud Vases Iittala / Arkipelago Candle Holders Set Of Three Square Timo Sarpaneva / Finland1950/60s Sea Glasbruk Kosta Sweden Tapering Vases X 2Large Red Riihimaki VaseCute 1970's Monica Backstrom For Kosta Boda Glass Confetti EggFinland Art Glass Stylized Bird Figurine Oiva Toikka Style Danish Modern IittalaKosta Boda Handmade Art Glass Chicken RoosterKosta Boda Glass 3 Fruits Strawberry Grapes & Lemon W Labels & SignedMarimekko Iittala Kivi Candle Holders Lot Of 6 FinlandKosta Boda Glass Heart Bowl Ulrica Hydman VallienSet Of 4 Iittala Glasses - Thule UltimaIittala Solaris 2200-350 Glass Serving Dish W/box From Finland Tapio WirkkalaSmall Mats Jonasson Crystal Glass Duck Paperweight With LabelScandinavian Retro Cased Yellow Glass Vase McmScandinavian Full Lead Crystal Candle Holder - Kosta / Orrefors / Iittala EraScandinavian Art Glass Vase Orange With White InnerGorgeous Vtg Steven Correia Iridescent Pulled Feather Bowl Franklin Mint RareBowl - Kosta Boda - Kjell Engman SignedKosta Boda Seaside Vase Blue Goran Warff 9.25in. #49809 SignedKosta Boda Paperweight Warff~least $$ On Ebay~check Others!~etched Kosta 96899Kosta Boda Royal Art Glass, Small Bowl, Signed GÖran WÄrff 579164 Iittala Solaris Style 2200 Glass Salad Plates W/box--finland By Tapio WirkalaOiva Toikka Annual Art Bird Turkey Fowl 2005 Iittala Nuutajarvi Finland Kosta Boda - Window Ornament / Suncatcher - "birdcage" - Bertil Vallien Erickson Crystal Glass Muddler! Excellent Condition! Tapio Wirkkala Textured Glass Avanto Bowl Icicle IittalaKosta Boda Heavy Glass Dish (small)60s 70s Mid Century Danish Modern Female Nude Art Glass Sculpture ScandinavianIittala Oiva Toikka Annual Christmas Art Bird 2011 Jouliana Finland NibScandinavian Quality Cased Blue Glass Vase Retro70's Mcm 1.2kgOrrefors Skiers Reindeer Signed Clear Crystal Art Glass VaseTwo Kosta Boda Horses Zoo Series Bertil Vallien Art Glass Vtg Danish ModermUnusually Large Vicke Lindstrand Orrefors 'stella Polaris' Vase Mid Century ModOffered Is A Vintage Orrefors The Blacksmith Crystal Art Glass Craftmen FigurineMats Jonasson Crystal Glass Sculpture / Paperweight - Squirrel Kosta Boda Limelight Crystal Candle Holder W/gold Trim/sweden/goran WarffKosta Boda Mini Sculpture Art Glass - My Heart By Bertil Vallien Numbered24 Kosta Boda Chateau Crystal Glasses"bird Cage" - Window Pendant / Suncatcher - Kosta Boda - Bertil VallienNice Blue Swirl Kosta Boda Vintage Model Car Glass Paperweight DecorationSea Kosta Sweden Hand Painted Hexagonal Glass Vase, Signed Rs YfOrrefors Art Glass Lead Crystal Glass Blower Figurine--sweden--signedKosta Boda Cobalt Blue Votive By Anna Ehrner With Random Cobweb Swirls Signed Holmegaard Kastrup Decanter Viking LozengeRed Riihimaki Vase, Retro, Modernist, Scandinavian VintageMats Jonasson Crystal Hedgehog Paperweight Signed & NumberedKosta Boda Sanded Art Glass Bride And Groom Figurine Cake Topper Kjell Engman Kosta Boda Snowball Candle Holder - Votive Nib Orrefors Crystal "odyssey" Lars Hellsten Glass Bowl 4700/11 New But OpeneSigned & Numbered Orrefors Crystal Vase With Smoky Green Interior Loop4 Vintage Iittala Finland Water Glass Goblet Art Glass