A Glass Easter Egg – Ikea & Bjorn Ronnquist

I’m not fond of owning things from Ikea. They have their place and I can’t knock the stuff for what it does – but it’s really not for me. I’d rather buy vintage or antique, or something made by a contemporary maker. It’s ‘greener’ too! In fact, the only Ikea thing I’ll really allow at home is a rather curious object, and choosing to blog about it now seemed appropriate, as it’s Easter.

An Ikea ‘Karisma’ glass egg, designed by Bjorn Ronnquist.

When I saw it back in 2005 or 2006, I smiled. Proportional, elegant, modern and stylish. It’s the ‘Karisma’ egg, designed by Bjorn Ronnquist in 2001. An egg form is decorated with an internal, melted in deep purple band. The band is unique to each example, so presumably was applied by hand. Pattern variations include more than one band, and the band applied as a spiral. The body is nearly always transparent, but the band(s) or spiral may be in green, yellow, bright turquoise, pink, pinky-red, or cobalt blue. Measuring 9in (21cm) high, it was designed in Sweden and mouth-blown in China. I think it cost around £12 or £15 or something like that.

The ‘Nipple’ on one end.

It seems other variations were produced on a smaller scale, probably for sale in galleries. Some had coloured bodies with bands or spirals in contrasting colours – these ‘studio works’ often bear his name and a date inscribed around the hole they were blown with. This hole is just a ‘nipple’ on the Ikea versions produced in China (see right).

An Ikea ‘Karisma’ glass egg, designed by Bjorn Ronnquist.

I took home an egg with a simple, single band in dark purple, which almost appears like a lustrous black in some lights, with as wide and varied a band as I could find. It came with its own small perspex stand with a rubber ring and two semi-circular cuts so that it could stand upright or safely on its side. The eggs were sold in a white card display box and bore a plastic label with his name and facsimile signature, but these have usually been thrown away and washed off respectively. I can also assure you that the eggs look an awful lot better in person than they do in my photographs!

I can’t find that much out about Ronnquist, but here goes. His full, correctly spelt name is Björn Gustav Rönnquist, and he was born in 1948 and died suddenly at home in Malmö in 2005, aged only 56. He began his career as an illustrator and cartoonist, but moved on to painting and glass design. He enjoyed over 150 exhibitions of his work across the world, from China to the US and across Europe. I can’t find many sold works by him in auction databases, but the ones I have found are energetic abstracts in bright colours, made up of rapid brushstrokes. His glass designs are similar, with broad seemingly random bands of primary colours on curving forms. Colour, it seems, was his language. But these Ikea eggs are absolutely everywhere. Indeed, the only photo of him I can find shows him clutching a much larger one.

So the design for this egg looks to be his legacy. I wonder if he knew that when he produced it? Since then I’ve seen them described as a 1960s design by Venini for Pierre Cardin, and being sold as generic Murano or studio glass. Was he inspired by this design, or is the Venini attribution wishful thinking? I hope not. I personally like this design and it deserves to stand on its own with his name attached.

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