Iittala’s brand manager Tuija Makkonen says that the mug from Iittala’s new Play series resembles ceramicist Johanna Ojanen’s mug more in the pictures than in reality.
Iittalan The mug of the Play series released during the brand renewal holiday is not a copy, although it has the “same spirit” as the Helsinki ceramicist Johanna Ojanen about a mug he has been making for a long time, says Iittala’s brand manager Tuija Makkonen.
The Play series mug released by Iittala last week has been criticized as being too similar to the mug designed and manufactured by Ojanen.
Ojanen has been making his mugs in Suomenlinna at the Pot Viapori ceramics workshop since 2011, and they have been sold in the Artek store, among others.
Iittala has not previously given HS an interview on the subject, but the Fiskars group that owns Iittala has commented on the matter in very similar, general emails. According to Makkonen, Iittala came out late, and he is sorry for that.
“We had a very busy week, which included a big launch in Stockholm. We also wanted to be absolutely sure that everyone internally knows and understands the facts before we openly go public with this issue,” he says.
According to Makkonen, the Play series is not about copying. According to him, the impression of similarity has been increased by the fact that even though the Play series is a whole made up of different and different types of objects, the focus of the public discussion has been the mug of the series. The series also includes, among other things, textiles, glass and candles.
According to Makkonen, the mug in the series also resembles the mug designed by Ojanen more in the pictures than in reality. The Play series has not yet appeared in stores.
“I have been lucky enough to look at these products on my own kitchen table for a couple of days now. The mugs have clear differences in dimensions. In addition, the model of the ear [Ojasen] the mug is round, while our Play mug is oval. The attachment point of the ear is also different.”
According to Makkonen, design is ultimately about very small things.
“Physically, they really are different, and you can understand that pretty quickly when you see the real products.”
Iittala’s new coffee cups (right) unmistakably resemble cups that Johanna Ojanen has been making by hand in Suomenlinna for a long time (left).
In public in the discussion, Iittala has been suspected of a way of working, which is especially familiar in the field of fashion. In it, the design teams of fast fashion giants are “inspired” by the product of small independent designers and make a copy that has been modified only to the extent that the criteria for copyright infringement are not met.
Makkonen says that Iittala does not accept any kind of copying, and that the company’s design process is strict and carefully documented.
“For us, the whole process is a bit of a sacred thing, even that we always follow it,” he says.
Johanna Ojanen told HS on Thursday by email that Iittala knew about the similarity of the mugs before the release of the Play series. He said that he had visited the company’s headquarters at Iittala’s request to look at the Play series mugs.
Ojanen’s conclusion at the meeting was that the products are very similar except for small differences in details.
“The meeting with Iittala was held in a good spirit and it ended with the statement of Iittala’s representative that they will return to the matter. I interpreted the conversation to mean that Iittala wanted to find a mutually satisfactory solution. So far, Iittala has not returned to the matter,” Ojanen said in his statement.
Tuija Makkonen confirms that Iittala has arranged a meeting with Ojanen.
“Since then, there has been a breakdown in communication from our side, and this is very unfortunate. We are sorry about that.”
According to him, it had been decided to go ahead with the launch of the Play series because the copyright expert had stated in his statement that it was not a case of copying.
Makkonen says that Ojas has now been contacted again, and the meeting is being arranged.
Iittala’s renewed yellow-based logo.
Iittalan the renewed brand look also includes a new one Aleksi Tammen designed logo, whose appearance has raised questions on social media.
The logo is quite similar to the one from Iittala Tuula pub logo.
According to Makkonen, the similarity is a coincidence. He says that the prototype for the logo was the logo of the Iittala glass factory from 1892.
“We wanted to capture this time when the entire production of the glass factory was based on craftsmanship and know-how, which we still want to emphasize today in this new direction of the brand. That’s where the inspiration came from, not the Tuula pub.”
Iittalan the brand reform has received a critical reception from the general public. Makkonen says that the scale of the public discussion has come as a surprise to the company.
“In a certain way, we are also taken by the fact that people experience our products so strongly as part of their everyday life and their own lives.”
According to him, the discussion has also been accompanied by a widespread misunderstanding that Iittala is abandoning its classic series and quickly bringing new collections to the market.
“The classics really all remain in our selections, and not a single series has been removed in connection with the renewal.”
According to Makkonen, the change is related to the fact that, while previously Iittala has published special products or seasonal colors throughout the year, in the future changing collections will be brought together a couple of times a year.
“We certainly strive to clarify our communication. Some messages have not been received in the form we would have hoped.”