Visiting the iittala factory in Helsinki, Finland
There is something that you probably did not know about me, and that is that I love factories. Really? Yes really! (You learn a lot about me lately! :))
It fascinates me somehow how everyday objects are manufactured. The huge machines that can perform complex operations, the regularity, the order. Love it.
It’s probably because I’m very chaotic myself that I love to watch these orderly processes. I can remember that I used to watch these endless documentaries in which they take you into a factory and go through the entire production process.
Hours of watching toothbrushes being put together, or twisting caps onto glass jars. Add the popcorn and I was happy.
Iittala really is well-known in Finland. They have the dinner sets you get from your parents when you leave the house and that you supplement with modern design pieces to a set that fits your personal style. Solid, timeless and at the same time really quite hip.
The best thing about the iittala factory is the fact that even today there is a strong connection between the designers and the labourers in the factory.
You don’t often see that these two work spaces are still so connected to each other. It is here: by oral transmission, the classic techniques and so the highlights keep on existing. Like the Alvar Aalto vase, where no less than 7 people are needed to produce it!
During our behind-the-scenes tour, we didn’t only see how the white-grey molds changed into colourful designs, we also saw the passion for ceramics in the employers, who often design their own items after their workday has ended.
Besides the designers that work for iittala/Arabia, there are also working stations that are rented out to talented artists, such as Kim Simonsson, of whom you can see work as soon as you land at the Helsinki airport.
Don’t forget to visit the outlet shops when you leave the factory. There I scored some cool mugs with my favourite design Sarjaton:
Later in the hotel, we got the cute Kastehelmi candle holders as a gift! Looks great in our new apartment.
We took another special souvenirs home with us: a home-made iittala mug from the Teema series.
First we cut up the coloured stencils with figure punches, then we soaked them in water and stuck them on the cups. Then our mugs did another round in the oven (on some mugs the colours even changed totally), and the result was great!
I’ve just finished this video of our visit to the factory. It’s just a short clip, but if you like production processes it might be fun for you to watch:
They managed to get me enthusiastic about this original Finnish Design Brand. And you? What is your favourite iittala piece?
You can find the factory/outlet here:
The Arabia Center is located just north of the center of Helsinki and includes the Arabia Factory, shop, offices, Iittala showroom, Arabia Museum (design museum) and also shops for Finlayson, Pentik, and Opa.
For a guided tour (only available during factory opening hours on weekdays) you have to book in advance by contacting email@example.com or call to +358(0)204 39 5326. The address is: Arabia Center, Hämeentie 135 a, 00560 Helsinki
A tour includes watching porcelain being manufactured and visiting the Iittala showroom and the Arabia museum and gallery. For more information about the tours, please check the iittala website.