Born in the Finnish port city of Hanko, Tapio Wirkkala (1915-1985) achieved international renown by the time he was in his thirties and remains to this day one of Finland's most celebrated designers. His work traverses a wide range of mediums ranging from the design of Finland's longest-used series of banknotes to glass work for Iittala and Venini, to product, furniture and exhibition design.
Wirkkala first hit the wider international stage in 1951 with his curation and design of the Finnish section of the 9th Triennale di Milan for which he won three Grand Prix. This was only to be followed by true international fame in 1954 with his win of another 3 Grand Prix at the 10th Trienial.
Although Wirkkala's portfolio is vast and varied, his explorations in woodwork would remain a constant throughout his career, beginning with his formal education as a sculptor specializing in wood at the Central School of Applied Arts in Helsinki. In retrospect, his oeuvre can best be characterized by a study in dynamic and abstract shapes often pulled from nature.
Today, on the 100th anniversary of Tapio Wirkkala's birth, Poltrona Frau celebrates the Finnish master with the first mass production of his early 1950s Bird Side Table. While up until this point only a handful of these tables were ever made, Poltrona Frau took on the challenges of its layered and splayed birch table top to perfection - recreating Wirkkala's graphic portrayal of a bird wading in water, with its black beak tucked down and its legs emerging from a common seamless strip of black birch. In completion, the Bird's simple sinuous form stands as a perfect example of Wirkkala's "natural and organic poetry" and it is one that we are now thrilled to welcome to our Switch Modern offerings.
We invite you to view more of Wirkkala's work at our Atlanta showroom or online at switchmodern.com.