Thursday, December 5, 2013

Björn Weckström (b. 1935) - The Recipient of Kaj Franck Design Prize 2013


I think it was around 1984 or 85 when I was lucky, and so thrilled, to become 
involved with Lapponia Jewellery Company ( in Helsinki 
Finland, at their premises there (doing IT work) and thus getting to know the 
company quite well. At the time I was very very tempted to purchase a limited 
edition sculpture of a futuristic horse by one of their four artists at the time, 
Björn Weckström (the sculpture, by the way, wasn't a Lapponia product, but 
was available for purchase at Weckström's own design/art shop in Helsinki, very 
close to were I lived). I should have gone for it, I guess, but at the time I had 
this uncomfortable feeling shared by the 'arts elite' in Finland that his work was 
too much on the wrong side of art, namely decorative design...

Weckström has now been formally recognised in Finland as a major force
in the history of Finnish Design, coupled with calls for some of his works to be included 
in the national Kiasma collection of contemporary art...

Back to the eighties and my memories of him. When I was working for 
Lapponia Jewellery they had four designers working for them (three of them 
are still there, namely Weckström, Poul Havgaard and Zoltan Popovits - 
the name of the forth one escapes me now). Unfortunately I never 
managed to sneak into Weckström's 'office', which sounded so fascinating: a 
sparsely decorated room lined with steel or aluminium (I can't remember which 
one of the two): a perfect place for Star Wars jewellery, I guess...

A Press Release from Design Forum Finland:

The Kaj Franck Design Prize of 2013 awarded by Design Forum Finland has been given to professor,
jewellery artist and sculptor Björn Weckström. The prize is one of the most eminent design prizes in 
Finland and was now awarded for the 22nd time.

Björn Weckström is a reformer of Finnish jewellery art, whose unique style has aroused
both national and international attention since the 1960s. He was among the first designers to
combine new materials such as acrylic with traditional precious metals. He created jewellery,
among other work the renowned Space Silver collection, that was both miniature sculpture and
miniature landscapes. In addition to his extensive output, mostly for the Lapponia Jewelry
company, Weckström has also created impressive works in sculpture, many of them inspired by
the mythology of Antiquity.
The prize jury stated that Björn Weckström’s identity as an artist is of a markedly classical
orientation. It is based on a thorough knowledge of culture, crafts skills, his vision as an artist,
and ethical standpoints. Weckström has explicitly sought to provoke and pose questions in both
his jewellery and sculptures and he has been attuned to his times in an uncompromising and
astute manner.
The Kaj Franck Design Prize is awarded annually to a designer or team innovatively creating
both high-quality industrial design and unique, one-off works. The winners of the prize represent
comprehensively top Finnish design.

Kaj Franck Design Prize 2013 – Björn Weckström
15 November–14 December 2013
Design Forum Showroom, Helsinki

Princess Leia, wearing Planetaariset Laaksot necklace by Björn Weckström, 1969


The necklace worn by Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) at the end of Star Wars Episode IV - A New 
Hope was made by Lapponia of Helsinki, a leading jewelry manufacturer in Finland. The necklace 
design is titled "Planetaariset Laaksot" ("Planetary Valleys"). According to Obi-Ann "There also exists a 
documentary about the making process of these jewelry revealing that George Lucas made the order 
personally back then." The Parts of Star Wars reports, "When Lucasfilm purchased the necklace the 
designer wasn't told what the film was about and was surprised to see his necklace worn by Carrie 
Fisher in a movie, which "later became a cult".

Design: Planetaariset Laaksot (Planetary Valleys)

Year Introduced: 1969

Produced from 1969-1981

Material: Sterling Silver (matte finish)
Size: Approx. 16 inches long, 1 inch wide

Björn Weckström, Nova, silver, 1975. Photo: Lapponia Jewelry

Björn Weckström, glass sculptures. Photo: Liisa Valonen

Björn Weckström, Liznumbered series, gold, amethyst, 2013. Photo: Lapponia Jewellery

Börn Weckström, Thinker, bronze, 1989. Photo:

Björn Weckström, Moonbridge, silver, 1970. Photo: Lapponia Jewellery

Björn Weckström,  in the book “Furniture by Finnish Masters – background, tales and moods”
by Kari-Otso Nevaluoma and Antti J. Kallio, published by Paasilinna

Jibo - Design Björn Weckström

Video by LapponiaJewelry

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