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    

Vintage Kosta Scandinavian Art Glass Vase. Vicke Lindstrand.Tapio Wirkkala: Xl- Sized Art Glass, Signed And Dated -57*wow* Tapio Wirkkala Littala '57 Chantarelle / Katnarelli Mushroom Vase Big Kaj Franck Nuutajarvi Notsjo Prisma Vase Danish Modern Art Glass Nr RareIittala Rare 11.5" Indigo Blue 1957 Timo Sarpaneva I-line Carafe - A1 SignedFlygsfors 1953 P.kedelv 8.4" Amethyst/azure Coquille Sculptural Vessel -signedRiihimaki 7.8" Emerald Green 1976 Nanny Still Disc Cylinder Vase -perfectMid Century Modern 1956 Iittala Finland Timo Sarpaneva Bird Bottle Decanter VaseAlsterfors Lg. Azure/sapphire 1970's Geometric Knot & Disc Cased Vase -perfectRiihimaki Lg. 10.9" Emerald Green 1968 Tamara Aladin Cog Vase -perfectFab Set 6 X Holmegaard Crystal Wine Glasses - PrincessRiihimaki 7.8" Red 1976 Tamara Aladin Tiered Concertina Vase -perfect3~signed Ts Timo Sarpaneva Iittala Festivo 1,3,4 Ring Candlestick Candle HoldersVintage Holmgard White Art Glass Vase Kastrup Denmark Mid Century Modern Kosta Boda 6.1" Ulrica Hydman-vallien Hand Painted Tulipa Vase - Signed + LabelA Vintage 1960s Iridescent Aorta Shaped Bubble Vase In The Style Of Kaj FranckLarge Vintage Estate Kosta Swirl Art Glass Bowl Vicke LindstrandVintage Riihimaki Finland Scandinaavian Art Glass Smoke Gray Decanter Jug BottleFine Large 14 7/8" Alvar Aalto Iittala Free Form Glass Bowl 1989 & Smaller Bowl Orrefors Graal Bowl,paperweight,swedish Glass Dish,signed Glass BowlKosta Boda Palm Tree Ken Done Nib Hand-painted 2 Liqueur GlassesFine Signed Timo Sarpaneva Iitala Orchid Orkida Vase 9.5" TallKosta Boda "metropolis" Skyscraper Glass Vase With StopperCool Smoked Grey Vase, Gunnar Nylund, Stromberg Sweden, Signed,1950sVintage Iittala Ultima Thule Tapio Wirkkala Finland Hi Ball Cocktail Glass Set 6Kosta Boda Naturalis Orange BottleOiva Toikka Nuutajarvi Finland Glass Sea Mew Bird Large Signed & Label VintageKosta Boda Kjell Engman Rio Scandinavian Art Glass Face Bottle Vase Sweden NrKosta Boda Metropolis Collection 12" Tall Building Shaped Vase Signed B. VallienIittala Festivo 12" Timo Sarpaneeva Signed Eight (8) Ring Candlestick HolderKosta Lindstrand Studio Art Glass Ocean Seaweed Window Magnum PaperweightKosta Boda Naturalis Lime Green BottleVintage Stromberg Blue Smoke Sommerso Glass Vase Sweden Mid-century Modern ArtLovely Cobalt Blue Blue Holmegaard Viking Carafe By Ole Winther C 1955Riihimaen Lasi Vase~red Glass Pablo 1386 Vase~erkkitapio Siiroinen DesignTriangular 'dusk' Vase, Nils Landberg, Orrefors, Signed, Label, 1950sAttractive Faceted 'dusk' Vase, Nils Landberg, Orrefors, Signed, 1950sIittala Tapio Wirkkala Arcadia 5 1/2" High Vase - Signed Aalto Vase By Iittala, Large, Clear GlassVtg Orrefors Crystal Illusion White Wine Glass Set 4 6.5" W Orig Boxes NrFab Set 6 X Holmegaard Crystal Sherry Glasses - PrincessAn Attractive Cobalt-blue Gulvase, Otto Brauer, Holmegaard, 1959Boda Design Palm Tree Ken Done Nib Hand-painted 2 Liqueur GlassesFinnish Riihimaki Olive Green Cog Vase Designer Tamara Aladin Scandinavian C1968Iittala Ultima Thule 8.75" / 32 Oz. Carafe And Glasstapio Wirkkala FinlandUnusual Rare Large Holmegaard Danish Modernist Lovebirds Clear Suncatcher 1960'sUnusual Aseda Bo Borgstrom Orange & Clear Cased Modernist Glass Hooped VaseIittala Niva Water/highball/tumbler Glasses Designed By Tapio Wirkkala Lot Of 7 6 Tapio Wirkkala Niva 3Kosta Boda Large Baluster Shape Vase - Pink & Blue On White - Enamel DecorationIittala Niva Creamer And Sugar Bowl, Individual Size Ultima Thule Design, Nr!Vintage Orrefors Art Glass Vase Made In Sweden Lush Colors Must See !!Orrefors Olle Aberti Sweden Art Glass Table Lamp 18" Signed And WorkingRare 60 70s Erik Hoglund Kosta Boda Glass Jugs Glasses Mid Century Danish Modern16" Space Age Mcm Scandinavian Sommerso Hooped Art Glass Vase - Modern 60's 70'sMassive Retro Pop Art Glass Yellow Hoop Vase Scandinavian Ryd/carnaby?Holmegaard Vintage Art Glass Suncatcher 1960s Mid Century Danish Green Set 3 Kosta Boda Goran Warff Lead Crystal Snowball Votive Candle Holders NewTapio Wirkkala For Iittala: A Set Of 4 Solaris Glass Dinner Plates (25 Cms Diam)Kosta Boda Mine Tumblers Glasses Set Of 4 Blue - Euc