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]

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]

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]

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]

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]

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    

Vtg 60s Retro Scandinavian Mid Century Riihimaki Solmuke Hooped Art Glass VaseOrrefors Rare 1957 Magenta 5.75 " Sven Palmqvist Teardrop Vase -signed Pristine Oiva Toikka Rare Blown Glass Bird Arabia Finland Nuutajarvi-notsjo Mid-centuryNanny Still 'koristepullo' Glass VaseEnormous And Heavy Tapio Wirkkala Iittala Art Object/vase, "arcadia", 3751Vtg Fm Ronneby Signed Sweden Modernist Art Glass Glitter Flower Paperweight YqzAlsterfors Lg.9.7 " P.o.strom Cobalt 1969 Geometric Cylindrical Vase -a1 SignedStrombergshyttan Scarce 1961 Amethyst Gunnar Nylund Droplet Vase -signed +label Riihimaki Lg. 10.7" Crimson Red 1968 Tamara Aladin ' Cog ' Vase -perfectHolmegaard Lg. 9 " Red Michael Bang's 1968 ' Palet ' Cylinder Vase - PristineKosta Boda Artist Kjell Engman Swedish Studio Art Glass Signed Bowl W/ Geese NrRuda Sweden 6.9" Cobalt 1964 Gote Augustssen Geometric Textured Column Vase -a1Birds By Toikka For Iittala €Large One Vase By Erik Hoglund Ruby Red Glass HMarimekko Candle Holder 3 Pcs. Lemon Yellow, Orange & Dark Amber Fall ColorsTall Rare Yellow & White Cased Multiple-hooped Vase, Strom, Alsterfors, SignedSet 3 Signed Kosta Boda Kjell Engman Studio Art Glass Mid Century Candleholders Iittala Finland Oiva Toikka Glass Bird "red Winged Black Bird" --- RareKosta BodaBirds Oiva Toikka LeppRare 1950s Strombergshyttan Sweden Art Glass Studio Vase Stromberg Gunnar NylundSuperb Iconic 'kraka' Bowl, Sven Palmqvist, Orrefors, 1952Kosta Boda Glass Vase - Kjell Engman - 28908Kosta Boda BowlToikka Iittala Owl Ltd Ugla Ltd Scope JapanSigned Scandinavian Studio Glass Large Bird Figurine Oiva Troikka StyleKosta Boda Snowball Lead Crystal Candle Holders Set Of 4Red Holmegaard Opalescent Carnaby Vase By Per Lutken Sweden Swedish Bertil Vallien Kosta Boda Matt Blue Head Glass Sculpture FigureOrrefors Expo Cobalt Vase By Sven Palmquist 19621991 Orrefors Anne Nilsson Happy Smiley Face Vase Label Signed #32Striking Orange & Yellow Elme 'peacock' Vase, Sweden, 1960sTimo Sarpaneva Incalmo Art Glass Plate, Iittala, Signed, Dated 1956, #1 Of 5Kosta Boda Snowball Tea Light Candle Holders Set Of Two (2) Lead Crystal EucIittala Glass Festivo 1 Disc Candle Holders €Superb 8" Oiva Toikka Iittala Nuutajarvi Studio Art Glass Iridescent Bird FigureAttractive Smoky Green-grey Faceted Dusk Vase, Nils Landberg, Orrefors, 1950sKosta Boda Rare Kjell Engman Figurine Bull Sculpture Vase Art Crystal Sweden ExcHolmegaard Christmas Advent Bottle / Decanter - 1998 New (bang & Frolich)Kosta Boda VaseOrrefors Erika Lagerbielke Studio Art Glass Cylindrical Amethyst Striped Vase Nr Kaj Franck Vtg Blue Riikinkukko Cup & Plate Raija Uosikkinen Arabia Finland 1Aseda Bo Borgstrom Glass Decanter Blown Art Glass Bottle Goblets Free Shipping Kaj Franck Vtg Blue Riikinkukko Cup & Plate Raija Uosikkinen Arabia Finland 2Sale: Kosta Boda Artist Kjell Engman Swedish Studio Art Glass Signed/num Bowl Birds By Toikka For Iittala €Vintage Iittala Glass Candle Holders Brand New In Box Gorgeous!Signed Art Glass Vase Nude With Harp / Lute (scandinavian?)1960s Mid Century Danish Modern Art Glass Owl Vase Scandinavian Vintage RetroMid Century Modern 1960s 1970s Skruf Sweden Xl Art Glass Candelabra Scandinavian6 Orrefors Prelude Champagne Flutes - Marked - 8 3/8" TallKosta Boda Tonga Bowl By Monica Backstrom, Signed Art Glass, Black & Clay RedKosta Boda Hearts Handpainted Ball Ornament By Ulrica Hydmman-vallien, SwedenKosta Boda Glass Platter Signed With LabelRare Ulrica Hydman Vallien Kosta Boda Open Minds Pink Face Signed Miniature Vase Boxed Set 4 Orrefors Gunnar Cyren Engraved Signed Sherry Glasses Swedish UnusedExquisite Crystal Orrefors Scandinavian Perfume Bottle Signed Mint ConditionIittala Nuutajarvi Finland Flora Scandinavian Vintage Toikka Glass PitcherKosta Boda ~ Figural ~ Crystal Perfume BottleCobalt Blue, Glass '"savoy" Vase By Alvar Aalto, 6 1/2" Tall, From Finland