Marimekko has been producing striking fabrics since 1949 when Viljo Ratia and his wife Armi Ratia founded Printex, a small textile printing company producing oil-cloth in Helsinki, Finland. This factory was not successful and was converted into a factory producing fabric for garments. Armi saw a big future for quality textiles and bold designs and commissioned young Scandinavian artists to design bold, colourful and hard-wearing fabrics using the natural fibres of linen and cotton. The printing was done by hand right up until 1973.
Bold, colourful fabrics ‘out there’
Although in the 1950s these bold prints were much admired, people did not quite know how to use them. They were too ‘out there’.
To show people the possibilities for these radical designs Armi Ratia’s company staged a fashion show, with clothes designed by a well-known designer using the unusual fabrics. They were invited to take part in the 1957 Triennale in Milan fashion show but this was cancelled. However, they were picked up by Giorgio Armani who was at the time the display manager for the up-market department store Rinascente in Milan.
As they, say, the rest is history and Marimekko grew into the highly recognisable name it is today.
Marimekko achieved great publicity in the United States when the style guru Jacqueline Kennedy bought 7 Marimekko dresses . She wore these throughout the 1960 United States presidential campaign for her husband, John F. Kennedy. The future First Lady appeared in her Marimekko summer dress on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
From one small remote country in the far northern hemisphere Marimekko designs spread across the world, including Australia. In Tasmania we are Marimekko enthusiasts and stock a large selection of their fabrics.
Marimekko’s well-recognised designs are no longer printed by hand – since the early 1970s they have continued to invest in new print technology and use the latest flat-screen printing and digital screen-making equipment.
Perfect Curtains and soft furnishings
Bright colours inspired by nature and the outdoors are printed on natural fibres such as linen and cotton which are easy to care for. The minimal lines of Scandinavian design are often abstract but always warm and inviting. They make any place feel homely. Look closely, and you will often see Marimekko fabrics in cushions and curtains or bed-linen, on TV shows and in the movies! Marimekko fabrics are perfect for soft furnishings.
For Marimekko fabrics, curtains and blinds, ideas, inspiration or to indulge your love for great design and exciting fabrics visit our marimekko page. You can Sew your own or use our custom sewing service which is available from anywhere in Australia!