Riihimaki glass, more properly the output of the Riihamaen Lasi (glass) works in the Finnish town of Riihimaki, was what ignited my passion for vintage homewares. I'd long been interested in interior design, particularly lighting, but not in any sort of knowledgable or organised way. I don't even quite recall how it started, but at some point I came across a beautiful colourful, sculptural Riihimaki vase and it captured my interest and brightened my mood at a time when I desperately needed a positive distraction.
So I read everything I could find, and I bought my first few pieces and it took off from there. These days I don't even buy much, either to sell or for my personal collection, as the interest in Riihimaki has now grown massively and prices have inevitably increased. But I remain very keen on the pieces I do have, and on Riihimaki generally.
A few months ago, designlasi, the Finnish-based go-to online source on Riihimaki (and the other Finnish glass makers), closed. It was an invaluable resource, but it was also a costly and time-consuming labour of love for its founder, one he was no longer willing and/or able to invest in.
One of the things I love most about Riihimaki is that there was (and still is) so much not known about its production. It's a bit of a mystery in parts, and I do love a mystery!. Although designlasi was excellent, it was Finnish-based. That's the best place for it surely, you may quite logically ask. And yes, except that, due to the quirk of the timing and history when Riihimaki enjoyed its heyday, much of Riihimaki's production in the period 1960-76 (when it stopped producing art glass) was export only, meaning there's a whole world of its designs that are more commonly found outside of Finland than in it.
Even while designlasi was still active I had pondered whether those familiar with the export models should be actively contributing to the formal information bank rather than just sharing knowledge in social media groups.
And now we've lost designlasi, I hope to record some of the beautiful designs, mainly export models, that I have been lucky enough to have pass through my hands. So this is it. I may lose interest or find it's too time consuming after a relatively short time, but I start with good intentions and let's see where it goes from here. I should add that although I have a strong appreciation of design, I come from a history, rather than arts-based background, so inevitably there will be more of a historical and cultural focus.
A bit of 'small print': I hope to keep comments open so that people can add their knowledge and share their findings, but please keep the tone friendly - I'm just a fallible human and can, and probably will, make mistakes!
Hi! You said a lot of the glassware was for export. Where did the majority of the products end up? I’m in Canada and I think these pieces are beautiful. I’ve never seen anything like it.