HomeSewingLooking for Inspiration, a go to to Marimekko in Helsinki

Looking for Inspiration, a go to to Marimekko in Helsinki

It has taken me a few years and three visits to Finland to put in writing this text, however, because the saying goes the third time is the appeal and I used to be lastly in a position to accomplish my purpose of visiting the Marimekko printing manufacturing facility at their headquarters in Helsinki.

Anybody that has ever taken a trend design, inside design, textile design, or graphic design course is acquainted with this iconic model which is known for brilliant, daring colours and easy patterns.  (Is not it virtually ironic that one of many darkest and coldest international locations on the earth would give delivery to such a contented and brilliant model of dwelling?)  However maybe it’s the excessive seasons that make the common Finn much more appreciative of the wonders of spring and summer season flowers once they lastly arrive after 6 months of harsh, icy winter.

Historical past of Marimekko Materials

The corporate began as a printing store, based in 1951 by a  Finnish couple, Armi and Viljo Ratia.  What set the corporate aside was using daring and brilliant designs using the abilities of native artists among the many most well-known being the avant-garde Maija Isola and whose title remains to be discovered on the selvages of material that includes her patterns.  Maija is the sample creator of one of the vital well-recognized mixtures of shade that are highlighted in her “Unikko” sample beneath.

Identified around the globe from adorning teacups to bedspreads.  Marimekko’s designs have lightened our temper with out us even being conscious of it.

Maija Isola design, Marimekko archives 1969

Marimekko grew into what it’s at the moment by sustaining the standard of its textiles in a world the place most producers are going for the cheaper and cheaper.  They deal with performance and the wants of their shoppers with an goal to make one thing that may be handed from era to era. Who does this anymore??

Their most skilled staff examine the printed cloth, meter by meter, to categorise it into grades.  Solely the best grade of material is rolled into bolts and shipped internationally to 40 locations to be offered by the meter to sewists like us.  Here is one I used just lately in our RFID shielded purse:

So, how did a small firm that began as a textile printing store grow to be what it’s at the moment?  Effectively, the tipping level for the corporate was the extremely popular Jackie Kennedy shopping for seven of their attire in the summertime of 1960 and being photographed carrying one in every of them for the cowl of Sports activities Illustrated.  And the remainder is historical past, as they are saying..

Marimekko Flagship Retailer, Helsinki, Finland

Now, let me take you on a digital tour of Marimekko.

Marimekko Flagship Retailer-Helsinki

Deal with: Mikonkatu 1, 00100 Helsinki, Finland

Set on a pedestrian mall amongst swanky retailers and spectacular structure, the flagship store beckons you as a flower attracts a bee.  For a #fabrichunter like me, that is pure heaven.

Completely happy workers and prospects mingle with pleasant chatter.  The salesperson I chat with explains that winters are lengthy, darkish, and chilly, and folks should spend more often than not indoors.  Again on the finish of WWII, Finland was a tragic place having misplaced so lots of the younger and ready males, so the founding father of Marimekko noticed a possibility to “brighten” individuals’s lives by way of daring and pleased designs by way of shade.


The Marimekko Manufacturing unit Outlet Retailer

All Marimekko materials are printed in Finland to guard each the design and the standard.  Though the manufacturing facility was not in service in the meanwhile of my go to as a result of annual trip go away of staff, my household and I had the pleasure of touring the installations guided by Maarit.

The outlet retailer has a group of the most well-liked gadgets, some which might be out of print and a few which might be made with the leftover materials of the season.

Going up the steps is the place the subsequent season’s assortment is displayed.

 Pre-Spring 2018 assortment, on the time of this writing being unveiled at Paris Style Week in October.

The Marimekko Printing Manufacturing unit

Maarit Heikkilä

I’m to satisfy Maarit Heikkilä, the PR Supervisor for Europe.  She is pleasant and stuffed with enthusiasm, so I like her instantly.  We launched right into a dialog that lasted virtually 2 hours.  I meant to take 20 minutes of her time.  Speaking to Maarit was like sitting down with a buddy whom, I’ve not seen for ages.


We walked to the printing manufacturing facility set up passing by the numerous studios the place the print designers work 2 years forward of the discharge of a group.  Footage of those future designs should not allowed for apparent causes, however it’s great to have the ability to see them at work.  

Nearly 1,000,000 meters of material a 12 months are printed on-site and the scale and scale of the manufacturing facility are spectacular.  All of the materials are printed in Finland to guard each the design and the standard thus the funding is crucial and crucial.  There are two forms of printing methods getting used right here that I can see: laser printing and display screen printing.

Display Printing Preparation Space

Discover the roll contained in the machine.  It’s being engraved within the sample created by the designer.  Every roll will carry a special shade.

Rotary display screen laser engraver

The opposite method is display screen printing the place one display screen is required per shade.

Display printing being ready

As soon as the screens are ready they’re positioned within the printing space within the order they’re going to be loaded into the printing machine. The following part of the manufacturing facility is the place a lot of the magic occurs.  The primary is the grey items space the place the uncooked cotton is ready earlier than the printing course of can occur.  Usually cotton arrives from the supply in sq. bales of folded cloth or massive spherical bolts that may include anyplace from 120 as much as 250 yards of material.

Bales of Sq. Folded Material-Origin Peru

The cotton is sourced relying in the marketplace costs with out compromising honest commerce to people, the setting, and naturally, high quality.  The material is loaded right into a machine for pretreatment that helps make the material higher settle for the dye.  This course of entails using chemical substances to preshrink the yarn within the cotton, to bleach it for shade, and to mercerize the material to melt it.  As soon as the material is bleached, it’s dried and loaded into the laser printer or into the flatbed printer.


To the right-hand facet of the grey space is the colour “kitchen”, the place swatches are examined till the precise shade that matches the design is discovered.  The colour is then made in 50-gallon barrels.


The following part of the manufacturing facility is the huge flatbed printing machine.  Every mattress will accommodate a flat display screen with a shade.
The machine beneath is a steamer.  Steam is utilized after the printing course of to repair the colour to the material.


As soon as the colour is mounted to the material, it’s then washed in a very giant washer.  This washer is the newest acquisition of Marimekko, with a price ticket of round 1,000,000 euros.  It’s so giant it is virtually not possible for me to {photograph}. The washer has totally different chambers the place the material is washed to remove the surplus of dye and chemical substances.  The method begins with lots of washing chemical substances and progressively reduces till lastly utilizing none in any respect. The water from this machine then goes right into a recycling chamber earlier than it’s launched into the town sewer system. As soon as the material is stripped of all chemical substances it’s dried it’s then inspected meter by meter and categorized in grades.  Solely the best grade will get shipped to be offered by the meter. The lesser grades are offered on the shops or used to make the smalls items.  It isn’t that the merchandise within the outlet retailer is of lesser high quality, it’s like working with leather-based in that you simply work across the imperfections.  

The way to take a tour of the Marimekko printing manufacturing facility

Because the time of this writing, the one method to take the tour is to telephone or write a month prematurely or attempt to be part of one of many group excursions.  There are not any excursions on Sundays.  If you’re touring on a bunch tour to Helsinki you’re in luck, teams have a a lot larger likelihood of with the ability to see the Marimekko printing manufacturing facility than a small group of individuals.  If you’re nonetheless and touring alone or with a buddy, I might counsel speaking to your resort concierge and see if they will get a few of the different company on a tour.

The printing manufacturing facility and the outlet retailer are situated in the identical constructing and even if you’re not going to have the ability to see the printing installations the outlet retailer is price a go to.  You will see the present assortment and the most well-liked gadgets all year long.

The way to get there:

  1. By Automobile/Uber/Taxi: quarter-hour journey from the middle of Helsinki and about (8-12 Euros)
  2. By practice:  half-hour Take Practice M1 in direction of the College (6 stops) then bus #79 (3.90 Euros)

About Helsinki by way of my eyes…

It’s summer season in Helsinki and the solar remains to be up at 11 PM.  By means of the window of the taxi, I can see flashes of the structure of the town, Nordic Classicism, Artwork Noveau, Byzantine-Russian.  Town is clear and trendy.  I like to see that persons are sharing the roads with trams, buses, vehicles, and bicycles.  It isn’t as heat as Google stated, however this isn’t my first time right here and I ought to have packed my crimson trench coat.

The audio system of the automobile play a tune by Jason Miraz.   Is it a coincidence of destiny?  It doesn’t matter as a result of it offers me the solutions…..  “typically it might appear darkish, however the absence of the sunshine is a crucial half….”  so true I believe.  It is a metropolis of nice structure, inside design, brilliant pleased daring purposeful minimalism is seen all over the place.


On the midnight airplane again to Singapore, I’m pleased to settle again into my seat,  I can see my pleased ft within the dim gentle of the cabin with the Marimekko slippers equipped by the airline. What do you consider Marimekko designs?  I would love to listen to your ideas within the feedback beneath.  Till Subsequent Time!

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