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MARIMEKKO

marimekko logo

ART OF PRINT MAKING SINCE 1951

Marimekko is a Finnish company known the world over for its lifestyle designs featuring original prints and colors. Marimekko offers high-quality clothing, bags and accessories as well as home décor items ranging from textiles to tableware.

Founded in 1951, Marimekko has become a world leader in sustainable textiles that offer strikingly inventive patterns and colors which give its products a strong and unique identity. Marimekko designers are not interested in trendy fashion but in designs that are timeless and lasting which remain fashionable in their own right!  Their designs are meant for everyday life, bringing function and creativity together!

Story behind the company

Viljo Ratia had a small textile printing company based in Helsinki in 1949 but it was his wife Armi’s vision to create striking fabrics that launched the Marimekko design house! She quickly gathered a core of up and coming young artists around her and with the help of a Riita Immonen’s clothing designs and a Helsinki fashion show, Marimekko opened its first store in 1952!

The company grew rapidly during the 1960s with the help of Jacqueline Kennedy’s purchase of Marimekko dresses when she was featured wearing one on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine!  The company continued to include new designers such as Annika Rimala whose dress designs were internationally featured.  Annika created some of Marimekko’s most famous designs including Puketti (bouquet), Keidas (oasis), Tarha (garden) and Tasaraita (even stripe). In protest to Armi Ratia’s declaration that Marimekko would never be a flower print company, designer Maija Isola created what is, without question, Marimekko’s most widely known design Unikko (poppy)!

marimekko unikko (poppy) cotton fabric
As Marimekko products grew more popular, more designers began flocking to the company during the 1970s. Armi’s son, Ristomatti launched a line of canvas bags which have become best-selling classics including Olkalaukku (shoulder bag) and Matkuri (traveler).  Japanese designers Katsuji Wakisaka and Fujiwo Ishimoto also joined the company.  Wakisaka’s iconic Bo Boo print became an immediate hit with children and adults!  Veteran designer Annika Rimala continued created popular designs such as the polka-dot Pallo (ball) and Peltomies (farmer) which were used in everyday clothing items.  Marimekko finished out the decade by opening a new textile printing factory in Helsinki that included a flatbed printing machine.

Armi Ratia passed away in 1979 and although the company leadership was uncertain, Marimekko designers continued to push out extremely popular designs including Ishimoto’s Maisema (landscape) and Iso Karhu (great bear).  Marja Suna designed the company’s first knitwear collection which became immensely popular!

In 1991, another strong woman with a design vision, Kirsti Paakkanen, took the helm of Marimekko and initiated a new period of growth.  She attracted more new designers including Jaana Parkkila, Jukka Rintala, Mika Piirainen and Erja Hirvi.  Antti Eklund’s Lisko (lizard) pattern was the design of the decade.  Kirsti also launched a new business wear line with elegant and empowering suits for women designed by Ritva Falla!

The New Millennium brought a global Unikko (poppy) boom as well as more classic designs by Maija Isola. Marimekko held design competitions and selected print designers Maija Louekari, Aino-Maija Metsola and Jenni Tuominen.  Successful patterns were released including Lumimarja (snowberry) by Erja Hirvi, Juhannustaika (midsummer magic) by Aino-Maija Metsola and Bottna (bottom) by Anna Danielsson.  Oiva (superb) tableware was launched in 2009 by Sami Ruotsalainen with patterns designed by Maija Louekari.

Over the last ten years, Marimekko has been in full swing expanding its global presence.  The company have more than doubled the number of stores outside of Finland including stores in New York, Sydney and throughout Asia.  Marimekko collections have been featured in shows in Tokyo, New York, Stockholm and Copenhagen.  New designers and new products have continued to pour out of the company such as Sukat makkarala (socks rolled down) glassware by Anu Penttinen, Konkkaronkka (bunch) cutlery by Mari Isopahkala, Hehkuva (glowing) lantern and Valoisa (bright) lamp by Harri Koskinen.  Astrid Sylway, Paava Halonen and Kustaa Saksi also joined the company as print designers

Finally, some unique collaboration between Marimekko, Converse and Banana Republic increased the company’s high global visibility.  Marimekko also partnered with Finnair to share its textiles and tableware with its long-haul destination passengers.

marimekko tableware

Core values

Marimekko’s core values are found in its concept of “Marimekko Spirit”:

1. Living, not pretending

Everyone should be a genuine person and following “bandwagons” should be avoided. Once in a while, it’s good to ask if this “tastes good” or is there perhaps some kind of an “off-flavor”. Most often, you should just boldly follow your own internal beacon.

2. Fairness to everyone and everything

We at Marimekko are always fair to everyone and everything. Fair atmosphere is a foundation for being creative and bold.  We operate in a sustainable way and create quality products that bring people joy for a long time and are gentle on our environment. For us, our word is our bond and we also expect the same of all our partners.

3. Common sense

Marimekko creates meaningful products - people don’t want to be surrounded by anything unnecessary. At Marimekko, we work as if the company belongs to all of us. A target-oriented way of working can take you far, empty wishful thinking won’t. We need to reach for the heights and think commercially while using plain common sense.

4. Getting things done – together

An atmosphere of openness and trust evolves from working together. Such atmosphere enables us to be bold, creative and successful. At Marimekko, we take ownership and get things done instead of messing with mere intentions. Thorough planning brings efficiency and working together brings good vibes. In every single position, we roll up our sleeves and work as one team.

5. Courage, even at the risk of failure

We develop Marimekko with a long-term view because we want to build something unique and meaningful. At Marimekko you can – and should – be bold and turn mistakes into a learning experience. Without courage there is no creativity. It helps to be brave if you don’t take things too seriously -especially not yourself.

6. Joy

We at Marimekko have always sought – and found – the keys to a beautiful and joyful everyday life. We want to taste the authentic flavor of life, thus finding joy and intensity for each day.  It’s just that simple.

marimekko home decor

Sustainability

Marimekko respects people and the environment in everything they do. Their core value of “fairness to everyone and everything” drives their sustainability thinking. They strive to treat people fairly, and create products that bring function and joy for a life time while minimizing the impact on the environment.

The focus in our sustainability work is especially in developing sustainable design and responsible sourcing – without neglecting the entire value chain of the products.

Marimekko’s sustainability strategy is captured in five commitments:

  • Designing timeless, long-lasting, and functional products
  • Inspiring and engaging our customers and staff
  • Promoting responsible practices throughout our supply chain
  • Being resource-efficient and caring for the environment
  • Offering an inspiring and responsible workplace

 

 

"Marimekko is not about trendy fashion. We make timeless and lasting products, which are by chance, often very fashionable." 
Armi Ratia, 1978