The three elegant pendant lamps in coloured glass, with a specially designed light bulb and a neck in matt-black metal, were designed by the famous Finnish designer Tapio Wirkkala. It was a brief collaboration, as the lamps turned out to be too costly for IKEA.
Tapio Wirkkala became famous after winning the Iittala glass design prize in 1946. Wirkkala was highly versatile, and these lamps are just a fraction of his contribution to Scandinavian design. IKEA bought the lamps from the Idman factory in Finland. Wirkkala had also designed the beautiful light bulbs, which were part of the overall design and were called Idman bulbs. Normal light bulbs did fit as well, but they didn’t look as impressive.
In late 1961, IKEA signed a contract to become the sole distributor for Idman in Sweden, even though IKEA product manager at the time, Ulla Karlsson, thought they cost too much. As soon as 1962, YKSI and KAKSI appeared in the catalogue. The following year Wirkkala lamps were given a whole page, which also introduced VIISI, KUUSI and NELJÄ. They were presented with the words: “Perhaps no name is as synonymous with modern lighting as Tapio Wirkkala, the famous Finnish designer who has won awards around the world in recent years.”
But for lovers of Wirkkala’s design, the joy was short-lived, and the lamps were never seen in an IKEA catalogue again. Product manager Ulla Karlsson was right – the lamps cost too much.