Orrefors Kosta Boda: A visit to the kingdom of crystal
Text: Kristine Olofsson | Photos © Orrefors Kosta Boda
The furnaces at Kosta glassworks have been running since 1742, making it Sweden’s oldest glassworks still in use. A visit to the village of Kosta comes with an invitation to explore the production and the magical world that lies behind the success of Orrefors Kosta Boda.
The fine art of glassblowing has long been practised in the woods of the Swedish province of Småland. The glassworks in Kosta was founded by two generals serving in King Karl XII’s army: Anders Koskull and George Bogislaus Stael von Holstein. By merging the first letters of their surnames, they formed the name that has now become equivalent to Swedish handicraft and high-quality glass, well renowned not only in Scandinavia, but also across the globe.
In Kosta, some of the best glassblowers in the world are working side by side with leading designers in order to create the iconic Orrefors and Kosta Boda glass. “The two brands have very different expressions,” explains Isabella Jansson, marketing coordinator at Orrefors Kosta Boda. “Kosta Boda is bold, colourful and demands space, while Orrefors stands for classic timelessness and elegance.”
Orrefors’ success was cemented during the Paris Exhibition in 1925, where the iconic, thin glass The Grail, by Simon Gate and Edward Hald, was awarded the grand prix. This set the direction for Orrefors’ artistic expression with the tradition of creative design and innovative craftsmanship in focus, something that is typical for all glass produced in Kosta.
Step into the hot shop
Kosta as a destination has a lot to offer its visitors, and guests will immediately be welcomed into the hot shop to witness the fascinating spectacle of glass making from start to finish. One can watch the hot, molten glass syrup slowly transform into sparkling crystal glassware, vases, bowls and art glass items, which later can be found and purchased in the on-site factory shop. Those who feel inspired are welcome to give glassblowing a go themselves and create their own glass item.
The hot shop has a special atmosphere and was long the heart of the community in Kosta. The popular event ‘hyttsill’ (meaning ‘hot-shop herring’) is an old tradition that embodies this phenomenon. This event takes place in the hot shop, and guests can enjoy drinks, local delicatessen from Småland, and master-class glassblowing, all accompanied by live music.
Accommodation, food and adventure
The glassworks in Kosta lays embedded in the dense, leafy forest, giving visitors the chance to enjoy nature and to make the most of the surroundings. Fallow deer, red deer, moufflons and wild boar are some of the wild animals that can be seen in their natural habitat in the Kosta safari park, and in Kosta wild camp, visitors may challenge family and friends to find out who can build the most seaworthy raft or has the steadiest hand during air rifle shooting.
For those who want to stay overnight in the area, Kosta Lodge offers cabins with outdoor pools and saunas, as well as the opportunity to cook dinner directly on the hot lava stones of the Black Rock Grill. The hotel, Kosta Boda Art Hotel, is another option that awaits up the road with its award-winning SPA. “One of the most unique pieces in the hotel is the 3.5-tonne cobalt blue glass bar,” Jansson says. Enjoy a drink in this enchanting bar before heading to Brasserie 1742 with its French-inspired cuisine, which has been rewarded with several awards, including Plate in this year’s edition of Guide Michelin Nordic.
News in the art gallery
The on-site gallery, Kosta Boda Art Gallery, is known for its intriguing and exciting art glass exhibitions. “Our current main exhibition is SPÅR by Kjell Engman,” says Jansson. “It is inspired by an abandoned village outside the city of Pajala, where everything was left for nature to thrive.”
Another exciting launch this year is the tribute collection in memory of Ulrica Hydman Vallien, who was part of Kosta Boda’s production throughout the ‘80s, ‘90s and ‘00s. “Her work, recognised by its powerful brushstrokes and characteristic expressions, has become loved both nationally and internationally and can be enjoyed in the art gallery this autumn, and it will also be available for sale at Kosta Boda Art Hotel.”
It is clear that Kosta is a creative hot spot with a love for the glass handicraft and the craftmanship of glassblowing. “The collaboration between the glassblowers and the artists in the hot shop will inspire and develop new, innovative techniques and forms that will continue to celebrate the artistry of glassblowing and design,” Jansson conclud.
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