Ruutu, Finnish for diamond or square, is the theme that is carried across the five sizes and seven hues of these modular glass vases. The vessels, created by French designers (and brothers), Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec for the Finnish glass firm, Iittala, share a minimal, rectilinear style. Like other works by the Bouroullecs, the Ruutu range encourages customization by end users, inviting them to be part of the design process. Arranging the vases becomes a game of composition: the vases work together as a family of forms that can be mixed and matched in any number and arrangement to create a colorful and varied panorama of building-like volumes. In designing the group, the Bouroullecs said that they “…had in mind glass that would catch light and transmit it into the home.” They experimented with mock ups to analyze shapes and the effects of overlapping  translucent colors, and found that the diamond shape was ideal—it worked in different sizes that could intermingle perfectly.

Ruutu is a collaboration between the Bouroullec brothers and Iittala, a manufacturer that has commissioned designers to develop modern, functional glassware for over 80 years. The vases’ rectilinear structure gives the impression that they are easily made, but it takes seven craftsmen twenty-four hours to produce one vase. The process starts with mold-blowing, a technique in which a glass master blows molten glass into a metal form which gives the material its shape. Finishing each smooth-walled vase is labor intensive, requiring a team of six to seven craftsmen, performing twelve stages over ten hours.

This object is currently on view in Saturated: The Allure and Science of Color.


Susan Teichman is a Design Historian specializing in synagogue architecture and jewelry design.

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