Marjatta Metsovaara (1927-2014) was a crucial figure in Scandanavian design in the mid to late twentieth century, with a career spanning several decades. She founded Metsovaara Oy, a textile company, in 1954 after graduating from the Helsinki Institute of Industrial Arts in 1949. She helped generate a new international market for bold, eye-catching Finnish-designed patterns with her contemporaries Maija Isola and Armi Ratia, founder of Marimekko.
Metsovaara’s style ranged from designs made up of organic forms in vibrant hues to muted neutral tones. She designed for 10 mills in Finland and abroad by 1967, and she made both printed and woven textiles. She ran her design studio and weaving mill in Urjala, Finland. Still, she also worked for Villanytyma, Finnrya, Finn-Fare, La Havere, United Wool, Green & Green, Jack Lenor Larsen, Vallila, and, most notably, Tampella.
Metsovaara Oy continued to produce until the 1980s when it was sold. Metsovaara worked for several decades, generating a varied body of work that is frequently difficult to describe, including fashion fabrics, home and commercial interiors, tableware, carpets, and paintings.
Metsovaara received a Milan Triennale prize, the Signe d’Or Industriel, and the Pro Finland Medal during her lifetime. The demand for her bold textiles persists, as indicated by auction listings for her fabrics, as well as several Vallila prints that have lately been replicated for a current market.
Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The design encyclopedia. Laurence King Publishing. https://amzn.to/3ElmSlL
Marjatta Metsovaara-Nystrom. Marjatta Metsovaara-Nystrom | Biography | People | Collection of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. (n.d.). Retrieved November 10, 2021, from https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/people/18064947/bio#ch.
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Aav, M., & Stritzler-Levine, N. (1998). Finnish modern design: Utopian ideals and Everyday Realities, 1930-1997. Yale University Press.
Komonen, M. (1981). Finland: Nature, design, architecture. Museum of Finnish Architecture.
Korvenmaa, P. (2018). Finnish design: A concise history. Aalto ARTS Books.