Arabia Finland, Esteri Tomula – Fennica
Often you will come across designs from different eras being given the same name…even though by the same manufacturer.
This is the case here with Arabia Finland “Fennica”. This beautifully intricate and delicate floral design featured is one by Esteri Tomula for Arabia Finland on forms by Brita Heilimo.
This Fennica design was in production 1953-1974, and very different from the later “Fennica” c 1970s which had the same forms as Arabia Ruska in a plain cream colour. ( I have seen slightly different dates for production – but I think the one above is most accurate).
On some of the designs of Fennica, the colour scheme is blue/green/grey as in the first photograph. On other variations of the design the colour scheme is blue, pink and grey as seen in the 3rd. photograph. There may be some other variations which I haven’t come across.
In a previous post on the work of Esteri Tomula for Arabia I wrote about how she was inspired by the flora of Finland which is certainly evident in this design, with its beautifully hand painted flowers and leaves, and delicate white “pearls” of enamel on some of the flowers.
This series seems to have consisted of decor items such as vases, boxes, decorative plates etc.
Inkeri Leivo – Arabia Finland – Pudas Arctica
The design featured here is “Pudas Arctica” by Inkeri Leivo (1944-2010), which is a variation of her now 20th Century design classic “Arctica” – which is still in production today.
The design for Arctica began in 1975 and was in production by 1979. Pudas Arctica was in production up until c1981.
Arctica has continued to evolve, with new variations even now still being added by current designers.
Arctica was designed as a large dinner service including baking dishes, tureen etc. The design featured a slimmer and more elegant profile than previous Arabia designs due to new technologies.
The roundness of the design while being very contemporary, also alludes to the elegant forms of the 1930’s Art Deco era.
Inkeri had began her career in Arabia in 1971, and her clean, light and graceful designs were a change from the heavier forms coming out of Arabia Finland in the 1970s. Amongst others, Inkeri also designed the popular “Saaristo”, “Kombi” “Harlekiini” & “Uhtua” lines.
Arabia Finland “Venus”, Hilkka Liisa Ahola
What a stunning design. This is “Venus”, designed by Hillka Liisa Ahola for Arabia Finland c1965.
The design features a mandala like motif in deep blues and aquamarine, resembling batik patterns which were hugely popular at the time. It is very similar to a design Hilkka created for a series of wall tiles 1967-1973.
From what I can find out the series consisted of lidded jars and canisters, and flat cheese boards or trivets. I love the shape of the domed lids with their round handles in this series, which remind me of the forms of Midwinter Stonehenge which came a bit later.
It was in production from 1965 to 1976 and seems to be quite a rare design these days.
Arabia Finland Venus – Hilkka Liisa Ahola
Arabia Finland Valencia, Ulla Procope
Valencia was designed by Ulla Procope in 1960 and became so popular it continued until around 2002.
It is one of the standout designs to come out from Arabia Finland in the second half of the 20th Century.
It continues to be one of the most desirable and valuable (on the resale market) Arabia Finland dinnerware designs.
The design features an intense cobalt blue oxide painted onto a white ground, with the deep cobalt blue covering almost the entire surface.
It was designed in an era when there were a large number of employees decorating products. For example In 1960 there were still 175 employees hand decorating wares. It is unfortunate this labour intensive work is no longer economical – even though the output of each painter every day was huge.
Often other Arabia Finland designs with this strong cobalt blue pattern are confused with, and sold as Valencia – for example Köökki (a design by Gunvor Olin Gronqvist) is one often mistaken as the Valencia design simply because of its bold cobalt blue design.
Like many of these highly patterned designs, it is hard to appreciate the effect of the overall look until you see a whole set of the pieces together, as in the last photo.
Arabia Finland Valencia Sugar Bowl
Arabia Finland Valencia Tea Cup
Arabia Finland Valencia Tea Cup base.
Arabia Finland, Raija Uosikkinen
Raija Uosikkinen (1923- 2004) worked as a painter and decoration designer at Arabia Finland 1947-1986. She and Esteri Tomula were pivotal to the success of Arabia Finland when the product lines were revamped in the later 1940s and 1950s. Kaj Franck was responsible for most of the forms or shapes which the designs by Raija and Esteri were added to.
The very popular design “Ali” by Raija Uosikkinen designed in 1964 was produced until 1975. It came in both Blue and Brown variations, but the blue seems to be the more popular. “Ali” was also the last design on copperplate from the Arabia Finland factory.
Arabia Finland, Ali Design – Blue, Large Jug
The large jug in Ali design above is currently for sale on Etsy HERE
Arabia Finland, Ali Design – Blue, Large Platter
Arabia Finland, Ali Design – Blue, Large Bowl
Arabia Finland, Ali Design – Brown Plate
Arabia Finland, Ali Design – Brown
One of Raija’s most coveted , and now most expensive designs to purchase on the secondary market is the beautiful “Emilia” which was produced c1957-1966. It features charming crisp black and white graphics of a whimsical nature – some purported to be about the daily life of Uosikkinen´s American aunt’s life. Other motifs feature garden scenes, market scenes, and other depictions of daily life. Read more
Arabia Ruska – Ulla Procope
Ulla (Ulrika) Procope (1921-1968) worked in Arabia’s art department at the same time as Kaj Franc, Kaarine Aho, and Goran Back. Initially she trained with Olga Osol in the hand painting department at Arabia, after graduating as a ceramicist from the Central School of Arts & Crafts in Helsinki. She worked at Arabia from 1948-1967.
Ulla was a skilled wheel thrower who understood how clay worked, and her outstanding design skills along with the ability to create production models, contributed to the success of Arabia in the 1950s and 1960s.
The Ruska range which she designed for Arabia Finland in 1960 became one of the best selling lines in their history. Its production was continued into the 1990’s it was so popular. It has become a Scandinavian design classic.
It was the first time Arabia had used a matte glaze for mass produced utilitarian ware. Ruska had a handcrafted look and feel to it, with the glaze colour and mottled appearance turning out slightly differently on each piece.
Arabia Ruska Teapot
Arabia Ruska Milk Jug Creamer
Arabia Ruska – Large Coffee Cup
Olga Osol, Arabia Finland
Olga Osol (1905-1994) is not a name that most people are familiar with, but she had an important place in the story of Arabia Finland.
She started with Arabia Finland as an assistant to artist Greta-Lisa Jäderholm-Snellman in 1926. She worked for Arabia until 1971, and for much of this time was head of the Applied Arts Department.
Her most popular design was Myrna – named after Myrna Loy, American movie star of the 1930s. This traditional floral style design with its heavily gilded rims was produced from 1937 up until 2005.
The only design from Olga I have had in hand is the lovely Botnia from 1968 pictured below. My favourite designs by Olga are those from the 1960s and 1970s like Bellis and Tunturi.
- Arabia Finland “Botnia” Trio
Some (not a complete list) of Olga Osol’s other designs are:
Arabia Finland, Esteri Tomula
This lovely design “Aamu”, Arabia Finland and was designed by Esteri (Essu) Tomula (1920-1988). It was in production 1971-1973.
Such a simple and beautiful design, and so effective in both its boldness and use of that intense blue on white.
If you look closer at the design you can see a range of blue tones and details. The flower petals as well have delicately painted veins on the petals which add to the power of the design.
Arabia Finland Aamu – Esteri Tomula
Arabia Finland Aamu – Esteri Tomula
Arabia Finland Aamu – Esteri Tomula
Essu had a long career with Arabia Finland for 40 years, and produced many designs that are now highly collectable. She started with Arabia in 1947 after graduating from the School of Applied arts (specialising in porcelain painting). She started in the hand painting department and soon moved to the department of applied arts. In the 1960s her designs were also printed on coffee and other enamel ware made my Finell Enamel.
Essu was inspired by the flora of Finland – which was a great match for the illustrational traditions and techniques of the 1940’s and 1950’s. Her technique was often to work with delicate black outlines which were made into transfer prints and then hand painted with areas of colour, easily apparent in designs such as Pastoraali. Read more