Finnish vintage ceramics design – Birger Kaipiainen

When in Helsinki in Finland a while back I came across the fantastic EMMA museum of modern art in nearby Espoo and loved stumbling upon an exhibition by Finnish ceramicist Birger Kaipiainen (1915-1988)

Birger Johannes Kaipiainen was one of the best known ceramicists in Finland, producing work for over 50 years after joining Arabia Studios in Helsinki, a pioneering studio of applied art, ceramics and design.  His creations are well known for bridging the gap between ceramics and sculpture

Lots of these pieces dated from the 1950s and 60s

Kaipiainen trained at the Central School of Arts and Crafts in Helsinki. In 1954 he spent some time in the employ of Rörstrand in Sweden, and growing further in recognition, secured an exhibition in New York in 1955.

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1970s Gaelic Book cover illustration

Beautiful book cover illustration from 1970 ‘Gaelic without Groans’ by John Mackechnie.  Love these strong purples, magenta and turquoise, the late 60s / early 70s had the best colour schemes.

Found in a second hand bookshop in Edinburgh, visiting lovely friend, erstwhile collaborator and one of my favourite artists Rachael Macarthur

Published by Oliver and Boyd, Edinburgh

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Silver End Art Deco Modernist Village, Witham, Essex

Made a chilly January trip to a very unique place recently – Silver End in Essex, an enclave of Modernist housing with some supreme examples of Art Deco.  Sadly pics have a slight grey January tone! But their wonder still shone through despite the weather.

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Beachlands Modernist 1930s Bungalow estate – Pevensey Bay

Happy new year! In the post Christmas pre new year no man’s land I went in search of sea air to blast away the cheeseboard cobwebs and ended up in Norman’s Bay, a slightly bleak yet atmospheric looking East Sussex coastal outpost I’d often seen from the train and been intrigued by.

A small collection of houses and a Martello tower was all it seemed to offer, but after meandering along the coastal road towards Pevensey Bay with my architecture obsessed companion Alex, to our joy we stumbled upon a hidden wonder – a beautiful estate of charming modernist bungalows from the 1930’s named Beachlands.

Most the the bungalows were built between 1937 – 1939 with plans for a cinema, shops and a whole modernist seaside ‘village’ before work was abandoned in the face of the Second World War.  There were some very clear Art Deco motifs whilst the bright colours and kitsch unusual decor on some of them reminded felt like we might be somewhere like California or Florida.  Some of the grand street names “Marine Drive” and “The Boulevard” somehow evoked ideas of these places too.

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Romanian 1970s Christmas postcards

Picked up these superb and wonderfully Eastern Bloc Christmas postcards in Romania a while back, all dating back to the 1970s.

This festive Brutalist block one is particularly spectacular

A sweet 70s look to these characters below, quite like this 1970’s Czech collage I found a while back.  I like the slightly flared trousers and big heels.


All picked up at an antique market in Cluj-Napoca, an attractive university town in Transylvania.  A few more posts on my travels in Romania and Hungary on oddball vintage Romanian ceramics and here on Hungarian book covers and Romanian rural interiors

More curious vintage festive posts in our archive – Christmas postcards from the Soviet Union, surreal baby fishing Christmas postcards from 1905 and New Year pig riding postcards from Czech republic in 1915.

Seasons Greetings from Kuriosas! Thanks for reading and see you in 2019!

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Pispala, Tampere and Porvoo – travels and Finnish interiors

Am (almost) final installment about my travels around Finland.  After my time in Helsinki and at the Haihatus art residency I featured in my earlier posts, I spent the last part of my trip in Tampere, Finland’s second largest city around 100 miles north of Helsinki, visiting a Finnish artist I’d met called Leena

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Alvar Aalto Muuratsalo Experimental House, Finland

On a mission to find the Perala museum full of Finnish product design in my recent post, I accidentally but happily stumbled upon the 1952 ‘summer cottage’ of seminal Finnish architect Alvar Aalto called the Experimental House, on the sleepy island of Muuratsalo nestled in forest next to the epic and dreamy Lake Päijänne, the second biggest lake in Finland.

Alvar Aalto (1898-1976) was an architect and designer raised in nearby Jyvaskyla creating furniture, textiles and glassware along with painting and sculpture which he considered to be “branches of the tree whose trunk is architecture.”

His career spanned many architectural styles from the 1920’s through to the 1970’s and consistent throughout his career was an attention to Gesamtkunstwerk – a total work of art – where the whole building would be considered with special consideration to interiors, furniture, lamps, textiles and glassware.

The Experimental house was Alvar and his partner Elissa’s Aalto’s self-designed studio and summer abode.  It was here that Aalto undertook various experiments with different materials and techniques

Walking through the woods I decided to take a further look and was amazed at the red brick building peeping out, which looked more like a British school or community centre in it’s style yet was nestled in a sleepy Finnish forest.

Formed around a central courtyard which accommodated stunning views out to the lake, the summer residence acted as an incubator of sorts to Alato  he “could carry out experiments that are not yet sufficiently well developed to be tried out in practice and where the proximity of nature may offer inspiration for both form and structure”

There were all kinds of intriguing brick patterns around the courtyard – apparently he used fifty types of brick, getting to simultaneously test the aesthetics of a variety of patterns as well as how durable they would be in an exposed climate

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