"Timeless, functional and durable products"

1949 was the year during which the seeds were planted that would revolutionise the design and fashion landscape on a worldwide scale. For, it was in 1949 that a virtually unknown Finnish textile-printing company, Printex – owned by wife-husband team Armi and Viljo Ratia – began commissioning young artists to create bold, cutting-edge patterns. Armi’s vision was simple and declared a clear intention for the future. “One has to dream,” she said, “and one must stand out from the rest.” Soon after, in 1951, Printex organised a fashion show so as to showcase and demonstrate how its textiles could be used to make clothing – though the exciting and playful patterns were warmly embraced by Finns, few knew how to relate with them on a practical level. This inaugural collection, designed by Riitta Immonen and utilising the creative talents of different local artists, overwhelmingly delighted and wowed the audience with its clean lines and colourful prints. A clear indication of the collection’s receptivity is glimpsed through the fact that the clothes were sold right off the models’ backs!

A mere few days after the staging of this show, Printex changed its name to Marimekko and it was officially registered as a company. Riding the crest of this rather sudden wave of momentum, Marimekko opened its first retail shop in Helsinki the following year, in 1952. The design house continued to grow and evolve locally until its global moment of truth in 1960, when a young woman by the name of Jacqueline Kennedy whimsically purchased seven Marimekko dresses during a one-stop-shop in the United States. This shopping spree made American headlines, and Marimekko became an overnight sensation, literally.

Today, Marimekko continues to grow and expand as a Finnish lifestyle design company renowned for its original prints and colours, possessing a diversity of patterns and an originality of the design idiom. Its product portfolio includes high-quality clothing, bags and accessories, as well as home décor items that range from textiles to tablewear. Approximately 150 stores serve customers throughout 40 countries around the world, and Marimekko engages in ongoing long-term development of its products, stores and distribution concepts. The company’s spirit is inspired and motivated by a set of six core values: living, not pretending; fairness to everyone and everything; common sense; getting things done, together; courage, even at the risk of failure; and pure, unadulterated joy. These values culminate in a team-oriented atmosphere in which genuine creativity, risk taking, inclusion and diversity are encouraged and fostered. The resulting openness and trust naturally feed the brand’s signature boldness. Ultimately, Marimekko’s products help direct its customers toward a beautiful and joyful everyday life while providing them with the opportunity to experience and appreciate each and every moment. It is through this lens that the magical quality of simple, ordinary living may be discovered and celebrated.

Marimekko, Melbourne


Marimekko, Melbourne


Marimekko, Melbourne


Finally, it is very much worth noting – particularly as a current or future supporter – that Marimekko prides itself on its comprehensive sustainability plan. This plan is guided by three principles: creating timeless designs that bring joy and happiness for generations to come, manufacturing the products of tomorrow without leaving any trace and encouraging positive change via the implementation of fairness and equality. The sustainability framework can be summed up by the following quotation: “We want to provide our customers with timeless, functional and durable products that bring them long-lasting joy and that they will not want to throw away.” A perfectly illustrative case in point is the Marimekko Jokapoika, or “every boy”, shirt. Designed in 1956 by Vuokko Eskolin-Nurmesniemi and based on the traditional pinstriped button-down shirt, it is the longest running classic still in production. The Jokapoika’s multi-coloured variations, imperfect vertical stripes and shiny tin buttons are quintessentially Marimekko through and through. This simple, vibrant and off-kilter design is a living reminder that life need not be approached with a heavy heart. In fact, it is a reminder that as the heaviness decreases, the enjoyment of life increases…exponentially. Visit Marimekko’s South Yarra boutique at 3/567 Chapel Street and connect with this Finnish icon of fashion and design.

Lifestyle & Design

Be the first in the know

Receive the latest Kay & Burton property news delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe now No thanks!