marimekko – a love story

I got a lovely little parcel on my birthday earlier this week. The dots is of course a MOST suitable pattern for the founder of this blog, but the flower also reveals a sweet spot of mine called – Marimekko.

Marimekko is the synonym of nordic, contemporary design at its best. Founded by Armi Ratia and her husband Viljo in Helsinki 1951, it has since produced innovative textile design for decades. Bold, graphic and colourful, it has conquered the world and now holds an international fame. The pattern of patterns, that has become the very image of Marimekko, is Unikko, the floral design from 1964.

This rebellious flower was created by Maija Isola as a protest to Armi Ratia’s statement that Marimekko would never become a flower print company. Maija Isola was the first fulltime designer hired in 1949 by Printex, the company that later would become Marimekko. She was only 22 years old at the time but would remain in the company for the next 38 years and create 500 prints!

Already early on their unique style was blended with Japanese influences as the textile designer Katsuji Wakisaka arrived at Marimekko from Kyoto in 1968. This was the perfect combination and furthermore contributed to refine their signature style. Marimekko has since then successfully renewed the brand by collaborating with young designers like Sanna Annukka or Maija Louekari.

Living in Sweden you cannot avoid the impact of Marimekko, which has been an essential part of interior design and fashion since the 50’s. Of course there are Swedish equivalents – which I will be happy to introduce to you in additional posts – but almost none that reached the iconic status globally as Marimekko. If I should mention the exception it would be Svenskt Tenn with their world famous textile designer Josef Frank.

The Finnish and Scandinavian characteristics of design is deeply rooted in me, although I was not aware of this until I found myself outside this environment for a period of time. It’s funny how it might take a distance in space or time to realize what has shaped you as a person or influenced you the most as an artist.

As I started this blog my dear companion gave me the cutest little Marimekko bowl with odd little dots by Maija Louekari, called Räsymatto, as an inauguration gift. For my birthday the dots multiplied on several additional pieces and I just love the vintage feel this pattern evokes in combination with Sami Ruotsalainen‘s ceramic.

Let’s end today with a great quote from Marimekko’s mission statement as a boost for all of us!

Courage, even at the risk of failure. What in the end do you lose if you take a step out into something new and unknown? Without courage there is no creativity.

Unikko by Maija Isola, photo by Marimekko
Unikko by Maija Isola, photo by Marimekko

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