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    

Holmegaard Kastrup Glass Bottle Early Gul Vase Otto Brauer Green GulvaseVintage 1970s Green Riihimaen Lasi Oy Riihimaki Glass Vase Tamara Aladin FinlandRiihimaki Hooped Kingfisher Blue Glass Vase By Tamara Aladin Lasi Oy Retro 1960sSigned Oreffors Art Glass Etched Sailor Man Ship Liquor Alcohol Wine Decanter NrVintage Timo Sarpaneva Finland Iittala Blue Glass Bird BottleErik Hoglund Rare Boda Adam & Eve Modernist Pressed Art Glass OrnamentIittala Glass Vase - Tapio Design - Finland - Rare ?Vintage Kosta Art Glass Swirl Oval Bowl By Vicke Lindstrand Small Vintage Modernist Tapio Wirkkala Comb Cut Glass Leaf Bowl, Iittala FinlandBertil Vallien 1970's Unique Kosta Boda Atelie CarafeBirds By Toikka Hiplu Iittala FinlandFour Stylish Holmegaard Crystal Glass Princess Champagne FlutesBirds By Toikka Yellow Grouse Keltariekko Iittala FinlandBirds By Oiva Toikka Iittala Art Glass Sign/box Turkinkana - Turkey FowlSigned Kosta Boda Sweden Lindstrand Studio Cased Art Glass Desk Paperweight MthDeco Kosta Boda Sweden Art Glass Vase W Engraved Figural Nude Woman Dancer MthVintage Riihimaki Riihimaen Lasi Oy Green Art Glass Vase Mcm Purple Blown Glass Bubble Vase, Gunnel Nyman, Nuutajarvi Notsjo FinlandBirds Oiva Toikka Tirri Little Tern Lilac Iittala FinlandToikka Iittala Owl Ltd Ugla Ltd1960s Anne & Goran Warff Kosta Glass Paperweight 1.3 Kgs Signed Excel CondArt Deco Tapio Wirkkala Iittala Glass Avena Ice Vase Marked5 Iittala Tapio Wirkkala Thule Miniature Shot Glasses Eames EraTimo Sarpaneva Iittala Glass Orchid Bud Vase Orkidea Finland Sculpture, 11" TallOiva Toikka, Nuutajarvi, Finland, Bird Art GlassVintage Orrefors Smoke Art Glass Sommerso Triangular Vase Nils Landberg SignedLarge Vintage Kosta Boda Art Glass Zoo Three Wise Owls Animal Paperweight FigureKosta Boda Texas Cactus - SignedIittala Festivo Graduated 1 2 3 4 Ring Candlesticks Timo Sarpaneva Kosta Boda Art Glass Sculpture Paperweight - Shoe On Pillow, Blue - Kjell EngmanRiihimki Riihimaen Helena Tynell Amber Art Glass Vase BottleOrrefors Multi-faceted Crystal 7Collectable Danish Holme Gaard Copehagen Glass Silver Top Decanter Orrefors €1960s Mid Century Mod Art Glass Owl Sculpture Figurine Eda Sweden Original LabelBirds Oiva Toikka Sooty Owl NokipKosta Boda Brains PabloExtremely Rare Holmegaard Kluk Kluk Bristol Blue Decanter Kosta Boda Rio Collection Miniature Orange " Face " Stem Vase - Signed K. EngmanFinland Kumela 1970 Azure /blue Pentti Sarpaneva Cubist Geometric Vase Holmegaard Kastrup Otto Bauer 17" Sapphire Blue Gul Vase Hand Made Danish ModernKosta Boda - "brains" Paperweight By Bertil VallienVintage C1959 Tapio Wirkkala For Iitala Finland Ovalis Modernist Crystal VaseAmber & Clear Art Glass Vase "kumela Riihimaki" Made In Finland, Artist Signed1960s 70s Mid Century Danish Modern Glass Vase Scandinavian Op Art Retro VintageOrrefors Crystal Animal-bearNuutajarvi Notsjo Arabia Finland * Kaj Franck * Cigaro * Ashtray2 Vtg Iittala Tapio Wirkkala Stellaria Glass Bowl Candle Holders Mid Century ModVintage Iittala Kuusi Fir Pine Tree Jorma Vennola 8" Dia. PlateMats Jonasson Masqot Crystal Heads- Set Of SixKosta Boda Brains CesearOrrefors Signed Velvet Vase Lena Bergstrom Black/ebony Art Glass/crystal W/ BoxKosta Boda Wide Life Gabba GabbaKosta Boda Olle Brozen Signed Floating Flowers VaseVintage Holmegaard Smokey Glass Hellas Torpedo Vase Designed By Per Lutken 15391Retro Scandinavian Riihimaki Riihimaen Lasi Hyacinth Vase Mid Century Modern 4 Kosta Boda Glasses Uhv Blue Swirl Mint Beautiful! Nib 2001 Holmegaard Denmark Golden Christmas Dram Glasses Vintage Modernist Swedish Signed Orrefors Art Glass Orange Bowl Venini FasalettoOrrefors Signed Velvet Vase Lena Bergstrom Ivory/white Art Glass/crystal W/ Box