Paolo Venini, founder of the world-famous Venini glassworks, had first invited Sarpaneva to work in Venice in the 1950s. When asked why he did not jump at the chance, Sarpaneva said that there was so much work to be done in post-war Finland that it had never occurred to him that he should leave.
A new invitation was extended in the late 1980s. Sarpaneva travelled to Italy, along with a number of sketches and wood models. He was positively dazzled by the skill of the Venini glassblowers. The flashed glass Kelo series, objets d’art made using the incalmo technique, steam-blown birds and decorative plates, and the sumptuous Kukinto (Blossom) vases – each piece was done effortlessly. Sarpaneva also experimented with gossamer filigree glass, producing delicate art glass objects for exhibition. This collection differed completely in appearance and colour from his earlier production. The intense colours and geometric, occasionally stark motif reflected a new, different side of Sarpaneva.