Marimekko, one of the most well-known Finnish textile companies, was founded by Armi and Viljö Ratia in Helsinki in 1951. It was established during the golden age of post-war modernism in 1951.
It was the trendy and innovative arm of their parent business, Printex, which they also formed two years earlier. At Printex, Armi Ratia created bold, experimental printed cotton textiles. Still, after this failed to catch the popular imagination, she founded Marimekko.
Author, TV host and influencer Vreni Frost wearing a red flower printed tunic and skirt by Marimekko, white plateau shoes by Miu Miu, a bag with the inscription “bla bla” by Jimmy Choo and sunglasses… Get premium, high resolution news photos at Getty Images
Innovative uses of textiles
This new enterprise aimed to show the public ways in which printed textiles in domestic interiors and clothing could provide exciting and colourful highlights. From 1953 to 1960, Vuokko Nurmesniemi was appointed as chief designer and soon created a unique ‘look’ in her vibrant and colourful clothing designs.
In 1956, Marimekko held the first fashion show in Stockholm and gained more recognition with the 1958 Brussels World Fair of its products. In 1959, the company’s designs were first introduced to the USA. A dramatic breakthrough in advertisement and sales was made when Marimekko’s dresses were bought by fashion icon and American First Lady Jackie Kennedy.
Three model women standing on logs in Marimekko dresses in June 1964 in Helsinki, Finland fashion shoot. Get premium, high resolution news photos at Getty Images
Casual appeal and look.
Their widespread appeal was notable when attitudes to dress were increasingly relaxed, much more casual in style than prevailing Parisian fashions. The business grew internationally during the 1960s and was widely recognised for its casual, mostly unisex apparel targeted at a young, single clientele immersed in pop ideals.
The bright, colourful geometric textile patterns by the painter Maija Isola, which also reflected knowledge of contemporary American fine art practise, were typical of such designs. The company has also developed an extensive range of other products, including glassware and paper goods, in addition to textiles and clothing.
Petri Juslin attends the Marimekko Boston Design Week Reception With Petri Juslin at the Marimekko Boston Store on April 6, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. Get premium, high resolution news photos at Getty Images
The firm endured some economic difficulties in the late 1970s. It was later taken over by the Amer Group, a Finnish corporation, in 1985. The business’s foreign appeal was considerable in the late 20th century, with the development of wallpapers, textiles, bags, tableware, and other domestic goods. The company partnered with Turku TV in 2002 to create brightly patterned television casings, rendering them interior decoration products rather than anonymous pieces of technical equipment.
Marimekko is a design house celebrated worldwide for its original prints and colors. Explore the latest fashion and home collections at marimekko.com.
Finnish Design House. Marimekko. https://www.marimekko.com/au_en/.
Woodham, J. Marimekko. In A Dictionary of Modern Design. : Oxford University Press. Retrieved 19 Feb. 2021, from https://www-oxfordreference-com.ezproxy.csu.edu.au/view/10.1093/acref/9780191762963.001.0001/acref-9780191762963-e-526.
Kaj Franck was a Finnish textile and glassware designer and ceramicist. He was born in Viipuri, Finland. Often referred to as the “conscience of Finnish design,” Franck tried to construct what he called the “optimal object,” one that represented the ideal relationship between man and the mass-produced commodity.