WRITER Owen Parrott
'Eskimo Woman's Leather Pants' was the name of Aalto's original submission for a glassworks design competition in 1936 – a name as whimsical as the collection of bowls and vases, which would win that competition and then wow the world upon its debut the following year. Similar to the ceiling at his famous Viipuri Library, completed the year before, the glassworks feature Aalto's growing preoccupation with undulating planes. The forms of glass have been said to mimic Finland's natural landscape of lakes and fjords, or perhaps he was influenced by his own name ('aalto' in Finnish means 'wave' in English). Either way, the interpretation of the sinuous lines and organic-looking shapes only add to the character and beauty of Aalto's famous pieces. Still produced by iittala in various colours and sizes today, the high-quality glassware is equally functional as it is good-looking. As with all great product, the best thing about it is that it's up to you to find that perfect use for it.