MATTI KLENELL - 10 Years of Dialogue with Iittala

Location Design Lab Gallery | Iittala & Arabia Design Centre | 8th floor
Ticket price Free admission

Iittala and Arabia Design Centre presents an exhibition highlighting Swedish designer Matti Klenell’s decade-long collaboration with Iittala. The exhibition showcases various works from the past ten years including a unique installation that was created specifically for the exhibition. The theme of the exhibition is the importance of dialogue in a designer’s work.

Designer and artist Matti Klenell (b.1972) celebrates his ten year anniversary with Iittala this year. To highlight the long and successful collaboration, Iittala & Arabia Design Centre has dedicated an exhibition to Klenell’s work, opening in November 2019.

The theme of the exhibition is dialogue. In the exhibition, dialogue is seen in many forms: between the designer and his sources of inspiration as well as designer and the company resulting in a balanced act between  innovation and heritage.


Much like craftsmen during the dawn of industrialism, Klenell aims for the richest artistic expression within the production process by giving his designs character and personality. Known worldwide for his distinctive glass art and designs for companies like Iittala, Moooi and Källemo, Klenell’s multi-faceted approach to design allows him to work within many platforms from product design to interior architecture.

Klenell has designed several collections for Iittala:
Birds by Klenell (2010), Lempi glasses (2012),
Nappula candleholders & votives (2012),  Virva lamp (2019), and Nappula pots (2020).
His playful and simple forms are loved by many.

The retrospective exhibition is showcasing various Klenell’s designs for Iittala and the link between his works and Iittala’s history:  

“I have always been keen on exploring history. My sketching’s relation to Iittala’s rich heritage, great designs, and art pieces is an important part of the design dialogue. Even in my first project with Iittala, where I was interpreting the birds that had been successfully developed by Oiva Toikka, I studied old masterpieces and used them to create something new that represents me” 

- Matti Klenell

Another essential dialogue for Klenell is the one between the designer and the craftsman:

“I believe that being a designer is a bit like being a journalist as everything starts with questions. The designer shouldn’t be afraid to ask stupid questions and challenge known boundaries. In most cases, you might receive ‘no’ for an answer, but at some point, someone is willing to try the idea and that’s how new and exciting ideas are born. Dialogue is essential when making great design.”

- Matti Klenell


Recently Matti Klenell was appointed as Creative Director in the renovation of the Restaurant & Café at the Swedish National Museum. In the extensive project, over 21 companies cooperated in creating more than 80 new products. Iittala Glass Factory partnered in the project with its unique, handmade Putki lamps. The lamps are displayed in the exhibition and are also in a unique installation that derives from the National museum’s interior. 

“The installation is composed of three chandeliers produced at the Iittala Glass Factory that are unified by an intricate installation of pendant lamps made in collaboration with the renowned Swedish lighting company, Ateljé Lyktan.
Originally, the lights were made for the Nationalmuseum interior but here they’re used in a new, impressive context.

The pieces from Iittala Glass Factory have a structured glass surface that clearly communicates works by Tapio Wirkkala and Timo Sarpaneva. The embossed patterns have also been used in my most recent design for Iittala, the Virva lantern.
The installation becomes a dialogue between two different design companies,
which I think is natural since my collaboration with Iittala has clearly influenced
my work for other clients and vice versa."