Marimekko – Cult from Finland
Take a checkered history, creative geniuses, Finnish design, a hype-generating president's wife and, last but not least, a marketing expert who puts everything on the right track. This is how you create a cult brand like Marimekko. The manufacturer is not simply known for design from Finland. Rather, Marimekko is considered to be the initial force of Scandinavian design and we would have to bring in many more superlatives than the typical, modest Finn would like. Therefore just this much: If you are looking for bags, plates, bowls, clothes or pillows in the famous patterns Unikko, Unikko Pieni, Tasaraita or Ketunmarja, then you will find everything your heart desires on scandinavian-lifestyle. If you are just looking for nice things to make your life a little bit more beautiful, you will find them as well. Let our Marimekko designs inspire you.
Marimekko – world-renowned design with a checkered history
Marimekko was founded in 1951 by Armi and Viljo Ratia under the name Printex Oy in Helsinki. Maija Isola was the company's first designer. In order to better market their fabric designs, Armi Ratia decided to expand the product range to include home accessories and fashion. Therefore, the management wanted to change the name Printex to make the changes visible in the company name as well. In the early 1950s, the company was renamed Marimekko (Mari – Marie; mekko – dress)
The breakthrough by the First Lady – Jackie Kennedy
The young company achieved its international breakthrough with Jacqueline Kennedy, the wife of John F. Kennedy. She wore in the election campaign at your öffentlichen appearances the then still cheap dresses of the young, Finnish company instead of Haute Couture. This phenomenon naturally caused a worldwide sensation in the gossip and fashion press. The president's wife was delighted with the colors of the patterns and the material that so naturally matched the dresses.
Marimekko experienced a real boom. The resulting profits of these years were invested generously. A Marimekko village was even planned near Porvo, where all employees would live and work. At the end of the 1960s, sales promptly collapsed and many projects were stopped, especially the mammoth „village“ project. The workforce and collection were cut in order to turn the company around.
Armi Ratia nevertheless placed great emphasis on social achievements in the company culture. Thus, the management offered the workforce its own hairdresser, massage machines and ärztliche control examinations.
In 1974, Marimekko shares were first issued on the Helsinki Börse. Armi Ratia led the company until 1977, after which she accompanied the company as chairman of the board of directors until her death in 1979.
Economic decline and Ütakeover by Kirsti Paakkanen
Few changes happened after that. The creativityät, which already distinguished the brand at that time, was no longer really present at this epoch. Therefore, Marimekko was taken over by the Finnish conglomerate Amer in 1985. The company worked after the Übernahme more and more unsuccessful and hätte 1989 almost insolvency had to file.
Talks took place between Kirsti Paakkanen and Amer. Kirsti Paakkanen, born in 1929, was the owner of one of Finland's most successful advertising agencies for a long time and had retired by that time.
New success through the Unikko pattern
However, in 1991 she acquired the Finnish cult company Marimekko and made it one of the most successful companies in Finland. The collection was massively expanded. Maija Isola's daughter, Kristina Isola, used her mother's patterns to put together a huge collection of different finished products – for example, she developed bags, kitchen textiles, bed linen, table linen or notebooks in the famous Unikko pattern. Unikko is even considered a cultural asset and unofficial national flag in Finland today. Unikko and the smaller Unikko Pieni are now available in numerous color combinations from black and white patterns to the original colors of pink and orange. You can buy Unikko as fabric by the meter, but mainly printed on plates, mugs and other tableware, on bags and fashion accessories as well as on sneakers and clothing. Numerous other patterns followed this success. Among the most successful are Siirtolapuutarha, Alku and Tasaraita. Also worth mentioning is the success of the 2009 Oiva dinnerware design, which has been known and loved for many years, especially without a pattern or with the black and white Räsymatto pattern, and is considered an integral part of the collection.
For success, Kirsti Paakkanen hired the most important fashion designers in Finland, such as Ritva Falla, Matti Seppänen and others. In the decade from 2000 to 2010, she gradually reduced her share in the company – to 32% at the end – to bring about a generational change. In 2008, the current CEO, Mika Ihamuotila, took over the management of the company and still holds 23% of the shares today.
He in turn slimmed down the diversity of the collection, especially the fashion collection. Furthermore, he focuses on the important patterns such as Unikko and Tasaraita and promotes young designers who give the brand fresh impetus again. Mika successfully led and continues to lead the company into globalization.
Jokapoika and Tasaraita – The design story
Three female designers and one male designer have shaped the brand. The extraordinary blend of the shapes and colors of Finnish nature and the social compatibility of their designs have set standards worldwide. Their designs, especially those of Maija Isola, continue to shape the collection today.
Maija Isola was Marimekko's first designer. She has designed for the company üover 500 fabric patterns. The most famous are Unikko, Kivet, Pineapple, Nimikko, Kaivo and Tuuli. Today, the Unikko pattern has cult status worldwide – even a Finnair jet is decorated with this pattern. The success includes in the current collection Unikko bags and sneakers in different colors, the tableware Oiva with the pattern as well as pillows, clothing, kitchen textiles and the variant Marimekko Unikko Ralli as a comforter cover, towel or toilet bag. 2021 launched furthermore the German sporting goods manufacturer Adidas the Finnish patterns in the adidas x Marimekko limited-edition collection.
Maija Isola was the company's head of design for a long time. Later, her daughter Kristina also worked for the company, constantly creating new items and colorways for her mother's variety of fabric patterns.
Finnish fashion designer Vuokko Eskolin-Nurmesniemi was hired by Marimekko in 1953 and quickly rose to the position of chief fashion designer. She designed the Jokapoika Finnish shirt in 1956. It is based on the cut of a worker's shirt and today has cult status in Finland. The design is an outstanding example für the social compatibility of Finnish and Scandinavian design.
An outstanding position also has Annika Rimala. She designed the pattern Tasaraita (straight line) in 1968 for a jersey collection to be worn with jeans and casual wear. It was the first unisex collection in the world. The first items were a short-sleeved T-shirt Lyhythiha (lyhy – short, tiha – shirt), a long-sleeved T-shirt Pitkähiha (pitkä – long) and the nightgowns Pitkämekko (pitkä – long, mekko – dress) and Uni (sleep). Today, the Tasaraita collection is the basis fashion of Marimekko. The most popular is the T-shirt Ilma of the extended range of the pattern Tasaraita. Furthermore, there are new color combinations every year, the cuts Marimekko constantly adapts to the current fashion. In addition, there are now some finished products with the popular pattern such as coffee mugs and napkins.
The designer, who in turn created a world first for the Finnish cult brand, was the son of the founding couple Ristomatti Ratia. He designed the first collection of bags made of canvas in the early 1970s. Since 2021, the Marimekko Ristomatti bags and backpack collection has been experiencing a revival.
A special mention should also be made of Maija Louekari, who designed the popular patterns Kaiku, Räsymatto and Siirtolapuutarha. Especially famous in the current collection are the dishes Oiva Räsymatto and Siirtolapuutarha.
Collections Marimekko 2021 and 2022
Today Marimekko employs many freelance designers, especially from Finland and Sweden. Finnish design is often more colorful and playful in contrast to the international Scandi style, all types of Scandinavian design unites the increasingly important framework such as natural materials, sustainable manufacturing and nature-based inspirations. This is also shown by the Marimekko collections 2022 and 2021, which use unbleached cotton from organic farming for the cushion covers of the pattern Piekana or give themselves a Marimekko-typical look into the nature of Finland with the pattern Ketunmarja (foxberry). Tableware pieces like the Unikko Ralli tray are made in Sweden in favor of short production routes. Textiles such as the Marimekko Ostjakki towel from 2022 come from European production.
The Oiva tableware
A great success is also the tableware Oiva, on which we find many patterns of the fabrics again. Unlike a classic tableware manufacturer, the Finnish brand offers a huge variety of patterns with just a few shapes – so you can always spice up your existing tableware, whether from Marimekko or others. You can order Oiva in a variety of patterns, from plates to teapots, and even combine the patterns among themselves with ease. On the cups, bowls or serving bowls of Oiva you will discover with Unikko, Alku, Räsymatto, Siirtolapuurtaha and others numerous well-known Marimekko patterns. Ideally, you combine such glossy pieces with Marimekko Oiva tableware in plain white; with cream tone.
Order tableware, textiles, decor and home accessories by Marimekko at scandinavian-lifestyle
Discover the variety of options from this classic, Finnish brand at scandinavian-lifestyle.com! Whether Marimekko cushion covers, Marimekko handücher, an Oiva bowl, Unikko and Unikko Pieni fabric, dinnerware, sneakers or other Scandi fashion – with Marimekko, you're always buying cult that the whole family will love. Feel free to come to our team with any questions. Friendly Scandinavian we are there for you if you need advice.