Glassware Showdown: iittala vs. Gran

An Alvar Aalto tealight holder, iittala.

The Finnish glassware giant iittala has been around since 1881, and their classic designs are fresh as Finnish fish. Consider the famous Aalto Vase, designed by Finnish architect Alvar Aalto in the 1930s. The vase looks good anywhere and never seems dated, unlike my grandparents’ crystal candy bowls.

What makes iittala stuff special is that it has never seemed inappropriate to current decorating, whatever “current” may have been over the last 80 years. Cut crystal, on the other hand, needs de-grannying. It can look great in the right eclectic context: a nonstereotypically granny setting. In contrast, iittala items seem to have skipped their awkward going-out-of-style phase altogether. Has Iittala found the design equivalent of the fountain of youth, or are Finnish grannies really hip?

Either way, after a spendthrifty trip to Finland I already have a hoard of iittala for my Dream Home.

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