Through a strange series of events in 2000, we two then-San Franciscans ended up with a house in Palm Springs. In between taking in the strange concept of sunshine (we were living in the notoriously foggy Sunset district of SF) and dips in the pool, we began haunting the city's thrift stores and vintage shops. In one of these, we came across our first piece of Iittala.
As the years went by, we continued to add to our Iittala collection - both via Palm Springs shopping and eBay. Sometimes we knew exactly what we were buying. Other times we'd find a compelling blown glass vase that we would later find out was a Tapio Wirkkala or Alvar Aalto design.
Prior to ending up in Palm Springs, we'd spent as much time as we could at The Sea Ranch, staying in various rental houses. One day over drinks with friends, we started reminiscing about trips there, having gotten so caught up in the sunshine that we'd stopped visiting. Suddenly, a plan was hatched: we'd go up to The Sea Ranch the next weekend if we could find a place to rent.
We did (the pickings were very slim!), and so we arrived, and somehow stumbled upon Placewares. We were gobsmacked: how did all of this great design end up in this little shop? And better yet, look at all of this Iittala!
So it was that, on our next trip up - this time with additional friends and dogs in tow - we made a plan to come back with 12 place-settings of Teema dinnerware. Our love affair with Iittala was expanding beyond just the classic Aalto and Wirkkalaglass pieces we'd been collecting. We even rented a minivan to drive up with extra 'Stow-and-Go' storage capacity under the seats for our Iittala goodies!
Teema serving dishes featuring Savory Coast delicacies at The Sea Ranch.
Since then, our Iittala fascination has only deepened (and helped lead to us deciding to get involved with Placewares). We've now made two trips to Helsinki (with a third planned), where we've picked up some amazing limited edition pieces now in our home. We also made a pilgrimage to the Iittala factory itself, a 90 minute drive out of Helsinki.
Aalto vases lined up for inspection at the Iittala factory. Note that the bubbled tops are yet to be removed.
Wood molds used to create Tapio Wirkkalaglass designs as displayed in the Iittala Design Museum.
There is a lot of talk these days about streamlining your possessions to only those things that "spark joy" when held or observed in your environment. Iittala is among the things that we get the most pleasure out of in our home, and it's also a pleasure to talk with customers about the designs - and to hear their Iittala stories: Sarapaneva cast iron pots received as wedding gifts in the '60's, or Oiva Toikka birds lovingly collected over the years.
A limited edition Aalto vase purchased in Helsinki and displayed on a Saarinen Tulip Table.
For many years, Iittala described itself as against "Throwawayism." Whether it's vintage pieces we've found over the years or new production we've brought home from Placewares, their products are made for a lifetime. That's a mindset we appreciate and share, and it's a big reason why we are such fans.
We invite you to browse Placewares' collection of Iittala during the Iittala Spring Sale, which runs through April 4th. Perhaps you will start your own love affair with Iittala.
Ultima Thule champagne glasses by Tapio Wirkkala toasting the coming sunset at The Sea Ranch.