Tapio Wirkkala (1915-1985) was born in Hanko, Finland. A giant of Finnish design, Wirkkala was an artist of great diversity for whom no material was alien and who left no area of design unexplored. Wirkkala began his career as a commercial artist.
A glass design competition held by the Iittala glassworks in 1946 was the event that set his career in motion; the first prize went jointly to Wirkkala and Kaj Franck. With an oeuvre that ranges from exceptionally beautiful pieces of glass art to industrial design in the form of beer bottles and banknotes, Wirkkala also designed jewellery, sculptures, and furniture.
The recipient of many awards, honorary titles, and a doctorate, Wirkkala won three Grand Prix medals at the Milan Triennale in 1954 and an additional Grand Prix medal and gold medal at the Milan Triennale in 1960.