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PRESS RELEASE 03.06.2016


Local Beauty: The Tarbeklaas Glass Factory



In 1941, during great changes in Estonia, the Tarbeklaas factory was established largely on the basis of the nationalized Johannes Lorup enterprise. The location, many of its workers and in the beginning also the products remained the same.


Glass manufacturing has a long history in Estonia and over the decades Tarbeklaas had a central role with considerable influence. From the start of the Soviet period, the pieces designed and created at Tarbeklaas defined the appearance of the local domestic environment. At first the works were based on products by Lorup and later on examples from Soviet product catalogues; from the middle of the 1950s, more and more products were created by the artists at Tarbeklaas, which among other styles mirrored many of the then significant international trends. The factory also shaped the local design scene significantly. Today the products from Tarbeklaas are of interest to many collectors.


Among the early examples of Tarbeklaas products, besides products by Lorup and some borrowed forms, many items were designed by Maks Roosma. In 1953, one of the first factory artists to start working at Tarbeklaas was Helga Kõrge, and under her hand, the appearance of the products became considerably more contemporary. In 1955, she was joined by young artists Ingi Vaher and Mirjam Maasikas and in 1965 Pilvi Ojamaa. They became the team that shaped the appearance of Estonian homes for many decades. In the years 1970 to 1980, the principal form of Tarbeklaas products was mostly designed by Eino Mäelt, Tiia-Lena Vilde, Elve Tauts and Peeter Rudaš. Techniques of the period are mirrored in the Tarbeklaas products – throughout the 1960s smoked glass and shapes with a simple silhouette, in the decades that followed frosted glass vessels, voluptuous coloured glass bowls and vases, and also designs using the centrifugal method.


Although the Tarbeklaas archive was badly damaged during the 1963 fire, the Estonian Museum of Applied Art and Design has an extensive collection of Tarbeklaas product samples, which were acquired in the 1990s when ownership of the company changed hands. The collection of items is supported by archival documents that allow us to greatly specify the attributions made so far. In addition, they help to inform us about the background to works in everyday use. The exhibition will also include a large number of items from private collections, especially from the earlier period, in order to offer visitors a complete and detailed picture of Tarbeklaas products from almost five decades and to introduce the peculiarities of the Soviet industrial art scene.


The exhibition is curated by Triin Jerlei, Kai Lobjakas and Kristi Paap, exhibition design by Maria Pukk and Ivar Lubjak from the Oaas architecture bureau, and graphic design by Mikk Heinsoo from StuudioStuudio.

Supported by: The Cultural Endowment of Estonia, Proplastik, UBS Repro, National Archive of Estonia, Estonian History Museum, Kanut Conservation and Digitization Centre, Maie-Ann Raun, kind owners for private collections .

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