Designer Spotlight: Marimekko

Bold Print Pioneers.
Author:
Publish date:

For this week's Designer Spotlight, we're exploring the iconic textiles of Marimekko.

Siirtolapuutarha

Siirtolapuutarha

Marimekko is a Finnish textile and clothing design company based in Helsinki, created by Armi Ratia and her husband, Viljo. 

Marimekko was founded during the postwar era in Finland to bring joy and positivity to consumers during difficult times. According to the Marimekko website, all began in 1949 when Armi Ratia created bold new print patterns for Printex, her husband's company. Two years later, in 1951, Armi organized a fashion show to demonstrate how their textiles could be used to create clothes. Women went wild for the colorful patterns and clean cuts, and a few days after the show, Marimekko officially registered as a company. The first store opened a year later, in 1952. 

From the beginning, Marimekko was a company run primarily by women, creating products primarily for women. Armi Ratia was originally a textile print designer, but when Marimekko began, she focused her energy on running the company. She bestowed the design responsibilities upon up-and-comers such as Vukko Eskolin-Nurmesniemi, Maija Isola and Annika Rimala, who created the bold and colorful designs that would eventually define Marimekko's visual language. 

The business took off in the '50s and kept gaining speed in the '60s, reaching peak popularity after Jacqueline Kennedy bought seven Marimekko dresses in one day.

The name Marimekko is a completely descriptive play on words. Mari is an anagram of the first name of the company’s founder, Armi Ratia, and mekko means “dress” in Finnish. 

Designer for Marimekko, Maija Lourekari told American Lifestyle magazine, 

 "I always find it a bit difficult to define exactly where I get inspiration. It can come from almost anywhere, at any time. More important to me is getting in the right mood to let the inspiration come and to let the thoughts flow. To find inspiration, I need freedom and time. Some thoughts can live inside my head for years before they become actual designs. At the moment, I love old rose, or actually the color of raspberries mixed together with porridge. I also love neon orange and dark green that has a bit of blue in it. I think colors come to life when they complement each other."

Unikko

Unikko

Marimekko is widely known for its vivacious patterns, but few are as memorable—or have as rich a story—as the Unikko print (seen above). The botanic pattern is unique and hard to miss. Although the company has branched out to other endeavors (Collaborations with Banana Republic, Target, and Converse, to name a few), it's the Unikko print that remains the brand's hallmark.

The pattern, which translates to "poppy" in Finnish, came to be after founder Armi Ratia condemned floral patterns, believing that they paled in comparison to those found in nature. Then-designer Maija Isola decided to rebel and painted a series of flowers in protest. Once Ratia saw Isola's designs, they were immediately included in her collection. The print is Marimekko's most iconic to date. 

Today, Marimekko continues to create bold, exuberant prints that stay true to the company's original philosophy - to bring joy into everyday lives. 

What do you think? 

Is Marimekko your cup of tea? Have you enjoyed the twist on Designer Spotlight? Let us know in the comments below!

Related Stories