ACAD | Fibre

Area of Study Blog

“There must be a reason to dirt a fine, white cloth with print.” –Armi Ratia

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Armi Ratia, pregnancy founder and managing director of Marimekko. Photo: Teppo Lipasti, 1975
Source: https://www.textilemuseum.ca/exhibitions/past-exhibitions/marimekko,-with-love

Lately in my practice I’ve been thinking about what has influenced my interest and love for hand-printed textiles. While I was deep in my research and thoughts this weekend, I remembered the “Marimekko, With Love” show I was fortunate enough to attend in the winter of 2013. The show took place at the Textile Museum of Canada in Toronto, Ontario. The quote above popped into my head recently, reminding me of how much this show has had an impact on me, inspiring my work and my design philosophies to this day.

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Installation view (2013) Photo: Jill Kitchener
Source: https://www.textilemuseum.ca/exhibitions/past-exhibitions/marimekko,-with-love

The show was a retrospective look at the famed Finnish design company, Marimekko, founded by Armi Ratia and her husband Viljo in 1951 in Helsinki, Finland. The show explored Marimekko’s uniquely integrated design, manufacturing and marketing. The Toronto Star said the company’s focus was on “style, creative living and bright patterns in a society recovering from the Second World War.” Marimekko’s prints and patterns suited the emerging visual arts landscape of the 1950s and 60s.

The article also stated that “its designer Maija Isola, who created the classic poppy pattern, Unikko, often took cues from nature. Her Lokki design-think horizontal wavy lines- was inspired by a seagull’s shadow flying over water.”

Finding inspiration in one’s surrounding environment hits close to home.

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Installation view (2013) Photo: Jill Kitchener
Source: https://www.textilemuseum.ca/exhibitions/past-exhibitions/marimekko,-with-love

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Karelia (Front Street), opening party. Photo: Wollin Gustavs Kayari, c. 1960
Source: https://www.textilemuseum.ca/exhibitions/past-exhibitions/marimekko,-with-love

“Marimekko introduced boldness and experimentation that left an indelible imprint immediately,” says Shauna McCabe, executive director of the Textile Museum of Canada. “The founder, Armi Ratia, had an encompassing vision about the power of design in everyday life.”

Who wouldn’t fall for these bright, bold and powerful patterns?

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Printex printing mill in Helsinki.
Source: https://us.marimekko.com/unfold/the-story

To learn more about Marimekko’s history visit:

https://us.marimekko.com/unfold/the-story

-Caroline-