Marimekko - 70 years for the joy of living and the art of printmaking

Author: Hanna Lofgren   Date Posted:17 May 2021 

Marimekko - 70 years for the joy of living and the art of printmaking

THE quintessential Finnish lifestyle design brand Marimekko turns 70 this year. Founded in 1951 by the visionary Armi Ratia, Marimekko is renowned worldwide for its radical prints and colours. Over the years Marimekko range has expanded from fashion to handbags and accessories, as well as home decor and more, making it one of the first true lifestyle brands.

Marimekko (“Mary’s dress”) was born to offer an invigorating kiss of life to the war-weary Finns. At the time their boldness was something mind-bogglingly novel which made the brand an instant sensation. An international breakthrough followed a few years later when a certain Jacqueline Kennedy purchased a whole seven of their dresses at once and wore one of them on the cover of Sports Illustrated. The Marimekko dress became a must-have piece overnight, and started featuring regularly on the pages of Vogue, Elle and Harper’s Bazaar and more.

Jackie Kennedy in Marimekko 

To this day, Marimekko is proudly proclaiming to be on a mission to bring joy to people’s everyday lives. The birth story of the brand evokes familiar feelings in the midst of the current global situation. When times get tough, aren’t vibrant colours and exciting patterns exactly what we need?

Dresses to run in

Armi Ratia wanted to use design to inspire and empower. The young designers around her created avant-garde prints and architectural cuts that enabled women to break free from the constraints of the corsets. Their dresses were there to be run in. Marimekko did not and still doesn’t expect anyone to conform to premade roles. “One has to dream,” said Armi. “And one must stand out from the rest.”

In the world of Marimekko, design is something for everybody to enjoy. And not only on the festive moments in life, but as a part of everyday life. A telling example of this inclusive spirit is the classic Tasaraita (Even Stripe), from 1968. Its designer Annika Rimala wanted to create clothes to appeal to denim lovers of all age, size and gender. To this day, the Tasaraita jersey shirt collection is a celebration of equality.

Marimekko's Ilma shirt with the Tasaraita print in blue/white
 

Ahead of their time

Sustainability has been at the very core of Marimekko long before any of us knew what it meant. Timeless design and quality materials make the products last for years and years to come.  And in the world where product origin is of growing interest, it is reassuring to know that after all these decades, Marimekko patterns still come from their own printing factory in Helsinki, Finland. Over a million meters of fabric is printed there each year.

Join the party!

We are excited to join the 70th anniversary festivities and have curated a special collection of ready-to-wear, bags, accessories and home décor. Discover your own Marimekko favourites in our special curated collection in store and online.

Marimekko Juhla Anniversary Mugs

Marimekko's Mansikka (Strawberry) print

 

As distinctive as they are, colours and patterns alone are not enough to define the spirit of Marimekko. Simple and timeless, or quirky and eccentric, there is always that feel of a handmade line in their prints, giving Marimekko design a human touch, embracing imperfections in design as well as in people.

 

Some of Marimekko's classics (from left: Siirtolapuutarha, Kaivo, Unikko, Kivet, Rasymatto, Jokapoika)

Unfailing classics

Marimekko’s rich history is bursting with visionary artists and creative power. Their ever-growing design archives contain over 3,500 prints offering an abundant source of inspiration for the new generations of designers. Some of their most loved patterns include:

Vuokko Eskolin-Nurmesniemi: Jokapoika (Every Boy) shirt, 1956. The longest running Marimekko classic still in production.

Maija Isola: Unikko (Poppy) One of Marimekko’s most beloved patterns. Other unforgettable patterns by Isola include Kaivo (Well), Seireeni (Siren), Kivet (Stones), Lokki (Seagull) and Joonas (Jonah).

Erja Hirvi: Lumimarja (SnowberryA soulful, universal hit created in 2004 is inspired by nature in winter.

Maija Louekari: Siirtolapuutarha (City Garden) This 2009 line drawing tells a tale of a journey from a bustling city centre to an allotment garden overflowing with flowers and vegetables. She also created Räsymatto (Rag Rug) in 2009, which is inspired by allotment gardening, sustainable living and the joy of working with your hands.

Hirvi, Louekari, Metsola & TuominenRuudut (Squares)  A collaborative collage of abstract, nature-themed shapes.


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