Aitio shelving from iittala by Cecilie Manz 2014

Cecilie Manz graduated from the School of Design at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts in 1997 and, after a period of study at the University of Art and Design in Helsinki, she returned to Copenhagen where she has established her own studio.

Designing furniture, lighting and household products, she has worked with many of the major Nordic design companies and manufacturers including B&O, Fredericia, Fritz Hansen, Holmegaard, Kähler Keramik and Muuto.

The Aitio shelving range was designed for the Finnish company Iittalia and has been in production since 2014.

There are three designs in metal - a square box, a double-width box and a shallow wide shelf - all with the same form with a base plate with the edges turned up and, wrapped around that, shaped metal forming, in a single piece, the back and sides folded round to the front to almost meet at the centre. The proportions; the silhouette of the stepped down sides and the quarter-round profile of the folded corners and the cut-out of the base piece are all very carefully thought through. In less-skilled hands the end result could have been clumsy or crude but actually the designs have real finesse and illustrate very clearly the difference between a design that is basic or functional and a design that is carefully refined … minimalism is not a starting point for a design but an end point, so as here, might perhaps be better described as reductionism with the designer seeing how much to take away, how much to simplify and knowing exactly when to stop. 

A robust metal bar is fixed to the wall and has notched lugs over which the shelf drops … the shelf having simple holes drilled in the back … and two dimples, towards the bottom edge of the back, keep the unit vertical over the back plate.

These boxes can also be used on a work top or on a desk without being suspended from the wall.

There are three colours - a white that is not brilliant white but almost stone or cement, a gun-metal grey and a mustard - and all in a matt finish.

There is a fourth option with a wooden shelf that is supported on metal end brackets that echo the form and the profile of the other shelves.

Careful attention has been given by Iittala to the design of the packaging - both for the way the cardboard box protects the item during shipping and storage while in stock but also for distinct graphics and typography.