When BV was recruited to the Åfors glass factory in 1963, the Swedish glass industry had two alternatives: mass-produced glass tableware, or artistic glass. At Åfors the first alternative applied.

The technologically minded Bertil was given the primary task of designing cheap, functional table glass. The artist gave way to the problem solver.

From the beginning, Vallien defined the essential dichotomy of the artist/designer role at the factory. In the book, 'Realm of Glass' from 1979, he says:

"It's as though I had two occupations. One as a designer of good, functional utility objects, where I have to take the limitations of mass-production into account. The other as an artist where I have complete control and the freedom to work with my own ideas".

Erik Åfors, recruits BV on a six-month contract. His opinion of artists, at that time, was marked by a certain cynicism: "they cost a lot", and their work had to be profitable.

According to art historian Gunnar Lindqvist, Bertil has achieved the above with flying colours. Witness the 'Japan Interior Design' award, presented to him in 1981, as the most influential designer in the field (1961-81). (Bertil is one of the few artists worldwide who has successfully alternated between these two roles.)

His attitude to the designer role is coloured by the fact that he is engaged in an industrial enterprise, where jobs must be safeguarded. "As part of a collective one cannot afford to be exclusive /a cultural snob/ and design things for an elite". The survival of the glassworks depends on products that are reasonably priced, aesthetic, & functional. The multiples (serial products) sell best and finance his artistic production. Throughout his career he has worked according to these premises.

His earliest design (during a trainee period at Åfors, 1960) was Roulette, jars for sugar and salt and two green bottles. During the sixties, his design work was principally directed to creating sets of drinking glasses, which were also an important part of the factory's repertoire. He produced at least one collection annually.
Three of which, Dragoon 64, Hussar 65, and Picnic 67, were an enormous success.

They are restrained, with generous straight-sided, relatively thick-walled bowls. A characteristic that is shared by all the services from the 1960s. He designed them in reaction to the thin-walled style of the 50s. Some of the titles bear reference to military terminology: Bassoon (1963), Visor (1965), Tundra (1967), Frigate (1968), and Drabant (1968). Others refer to festive activities: Bacchus 66'Picnic, Bistro (1968), and Cheers (Gutår) 1969.

The names aptly express the ambivalence of the forms. Strong, masculine and severe but also light and playful.

Apart from the dozen sets of table glass, Bertil also designed a number of utility objects, of which a series executed in blue glass is worthy of note. The series included lidded canisters, sweet jars with a detachable cork base, bottles, vases and bowls. The most striking features of this series is a lovely blue nuance and the partly organic form. It is reminiscent of the ceramic work from the same period; this is seen particularly in the canisters. With their applications (prunts) they resemble the wave-like patterns in his unique ceramic sculptures.

An artistic technique that he renewed is one connected with the blasting method. By mixing a thick paste(carpenter's glue) with the glass mass he was able to control the patterns in a better way. The paste acted as a shield....
The technique was also used in the serial production of some bowls and bottles.

Bertil's design work of the 60s generated a good deal of income for the glass factory, and a string of functional and imaginative(fantastical) utility goods - a sumptuous feast to mark the giddy optimism of the 60s. There is in his glass of the sixties an unconstrained lightness. Emanating from a rapid, easy flow of imagination. While his services and utility glassware from this period are sturdy and ornate.

Besides glass and ceramics, Bertil worked with other materials during the 1960s. At the Boda factory (part of the Kosta and Åfors concern) where Erik Höglund was making a success with wrought iron and wood. Bertil was brought in to design products in these materials and added rustic candlesticks and candelabra to the wrought-iron collection. A number of unique pieces were also manufactured, including some large-sized bowls.

Bertil Vallien´s first product at Åfors: Sugar and Salt (Socker och salt), 1960.

Dragoon, 1964.

Still life with blue glass, 1965.

Hussar, 1965.




BV 42 och BV 40, sandblasted, 1964.




Baccus, 1966.




Wrought iron.