Sweden has a glassmaking heritage reaching back almost 300 years. The two glassmaking giants Orrefors, founded in 1726, and Kosta Boda, celebrating its 275th anniversary this year, have been a collaborative since 1990. For Kosta Boda’s jubilee this year, they decided to create their most prestigious piece since 1742, the One Million Dollar Boat named Passage, brought to life by one of the world’s foremost glass artists, Bertil Vallien. With this project, Vallien is portraying the mythology of the history of the world, from birth to death. From the virgin princess to the mummifi cation – the individual who wants to be immortal and live forever in time.
Producing one million dollar boats however, has not been the main activity for Kosta Boda for the 275 years the glass maker has been residing in Småland, Sweden. There were actually two military veterans, Anders Koskull and Georg Bogislaus Staël von Holstein, who founded the glassworks. These two widely travelled gentlemen had discovered the demand of window glass in nippy Sweden. After their heroic actions in the war for Charles the twelfth, they acquired two counties in southern Sweden where they founded the village Kosta, named after the first two syllables in their names Koskull and Staël.
After its opening, the glassworks were mainly producing windows and glassware for the local market in southern Sweden. The glass blowers came from Germany, and in order to make them stay in Sweden they were offered certain privileges, such as the right to wear a hat and own a dog. These German masters wanted to keep their trade secrets to themselves, but towards the end of the 1700s, some unqualified Swedish workers managed to take part of the glass blowing which resulted in the foundation of a Swedish guild of skilled glass blowers.
Toward the end of the 1800s, Kosta decided to go for a more exclusive profile by hiring young and talented artists. The European competition had hardened and this niche strengthened their reputation and resulted in large exports and great successes for the Swedish glass industry. Unfortunately, exclusive products do not prosper in tough times, and during the Second World War, the glassworks had to adapt again and began specialising in jam jars and receptacles for the Swedish market. However, when the global purchasing power improved again after the war, it drove innovation and a new competitor saw the light of the day – plastic. This was yet another challenge but it was overcome by the more radical thinking of the 60s. With the new MD, Erik Rosén, in 1964 the glassworks broke boundaries of what was viewed as “nice” and when Kosta and Boda merged in 1976, they brought more colour and playfulness to the more classical Kosta. Since then, the glassworks has been producing classical tableware, such as `Chateau’ by Bertil Vallien, as well as glass art like `Make up’ by Åsa Jungelius and are now known for their openness to external influences and norm breaking artists.
For glass afi cionados residing in the UK, this years will mean something special as Orrefors Kosta Boda has decided to make a relaunch in the UK. For info about Orrefors Kosta Boda’s availability in the UK, please contact Remco Snoeck, Export Area Sales Manager.