Marimekko is a Finnish
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

 company based in Helsinki
Helsinki is the capital and largest city in Finland. It is in the region of Uusimaa, located in southern Finland, on the shore of the Gulf of Finland, an arm of the Baltic Sea. The population of the city of Helsinki is , making it by far the most populous municipality in Finland. Helsinki is...

 that has made important contributions to fashion
Fashion, a general term for a currently popular style or practice, especially in clothing, foot wear, or accessories. Fashion references to anything that is the current trend in look and dress up of a person...

, especially in the 1960s and 1970s. They are particularly noted for brightly-colored printed fabrics and simple styles, used both in women's garments and in home furnishings.


Marimekko was founded in 1951 by Viljo and Armi Ratia
Armi Ratia
Armi Ratia was the founder of the Finnish textile and clothing company Marimekko Oy. She is one of the most famous female entrepreneurs in Finland....

, after the former's oilcloth factory project failed and was converted to a garment plant. Armi asked some artist friends to apply their graphic designs to textiles. In order to show how the fabric could be used, the company then designed and sold a line of simple dresses using their fabric. It came as an early recognition of fashion as an industrial art and of Marimekko's role in the process when Finland's leading industrial designer Timo Sarpaneva
Timo Sarpaneva
Timo Sarpaneva was an influential Finnish designer, sculptor, and educator best known in the art world for innovative work in glass, which often merged attributes of display art objects with utilitarian designations. While glass remained his most commonly addressed medium, he worked with metal,...

 invited the company to present a fashion show (albeit canceled at short notice) at the 1957 Triennale
La Triennale di Milano is a design museum and events venue in Milan, Italy, located inside the Palace of Art building, part of Parco Sempione, the park grounds adjacent to Castello Sforzesco. It hosts exhibitions and events which highlight contemporary Italian design, urban planning, architecture,...

 in Milan
Milan is the second-largest city in Italy and the capital city of the region of Lombardy and of the province of Milan. The city proper has a population of about 1.3 million, while its urban area, roughly coinciding with its administrative province and the bordering Province of Monza and Brianza ,...

. The garments were eventually showcased in the nearby Rinascente
La Rinascente
La Rinascente is a Thai owned Italian retailer operating upscale department stores in the area of clothing, household and beauty products, founded in Milan in 1865 by Luigi and Ferdinando Bocconi....

 upscale department store under its then store display manager Giorgio Armani
Giorgio Armani
Giorgio Armani is an Italian fashion designer, particularly noted for his menswear. He is known today for his clean, tailored lines. He formed his company, Armani, in 1975, and by 2001 was acclaimed as the most successful designer to come out of Italy, with an annual turnover of $1.6 billion and a...


Pioneering design

Two pioneering designers set the tone for Marimekko: Vuokko Nurmesniemi
Vuokko Nurmesniemi
Vuokko Eskolin-Nurmesniemi is a Finnish textile designer. She joined the Marimekko company in 1953 and designed patterns for many of their printed fabrics in the 1950s; together with Maija Isola, she was responsible for most of Marimekko's patterns. Nurmesniemi left Marimekko in 1960 and founded...

 in the 1950s, and Maija Isola
Maija Isola
Maija Isola was a leading Finnish designer of printed textiles. She also had a career as a visual artist.-Life and career:...

 in the 1960s.
Nurmesniemi designed the simply-striped red and white Jokapoika shirt in 1956; Isola designed the iconic Unikko (poppy) print pattern in 1964.

Marimekko's bold fabrics and bright, simple design strongly influenced late 20th-century taste. Many of the early Marimekko designs, including Maija Isola's Unikko, remain in production today.

Commercial growth

Marimekko was first introduced to the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 by the architect Benjamin C. Thompson
Benjamin C. Thompson
Benjamin C. Thompson was an American architect.Thompson was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota, graduated from Yale University in 1941, then spent four years in the United States Navy fighting in World War II...

, who featured them heavily in his Design Research stores
Design Research (store)
Design Research or D/R was an innovative retail store founded in 1953 by Ben Thompson in Cambridge, Massachusetts; later it became a chain of a dozen stores across the United States; it went bankrupt in 1978...

. They were made famous in the United States by Jacqueline Kennedy, who bought eight Marimekko dresses which she wore throughout the 1960 US Presidential campaign.

In the mid-1960s, Crate and Barrel
Crate and Barrel
Crate & Barrel is a 170+ store chain of American retail stores, based in Northbrook, Illinois, specializing in housewares, furniture , and home accessories. Its corporate name is Euromarket Designs, Inc. The company is wholly owned by Otto GmbH.-Founding:Gordon and Carole Segal opened the first...

 began a relationship with Marimekko, which continues to this day, utilizing their designs on textiles sold in their stores. Crate and Barrel also uses Marimekko patterns as display backdrops in their stores to add color and seasonality.

By 1965, the company employed over 400, and the company was in every aspect of fine design, from fabrics to toys, dinnerware, even completely equipped small houses. That year, Armi Ratia told Pan Am's Clipper
A clipper was a very fast sailing ship of the 19th century that had three or more masts and a square rig. They were generally narrow for their length, could carry limited bulk freight, small by later 19th century standards, and had a large total sail area...

Magazines, periodicals, glossies or serials are publications, generally published on a regular schedule, containing a variety of articles. They are generally financed by advertising, by a purchase price, by pre-paid magazine subscriptions, or all three...

 that she was "against success--it is a sick word. Too many side effects." In the interview by R.E. Smallman, she also said that she did not like "hats, corsets. There is almost no more bra or even pants--no elegant woman will wear stockings, perhaps even no shoes. The world changes quickly, and this is expression of the new society."

In 1985, the company was sold to Amer-yhtymä
Amer Sports
Amer Sports Oyj is the largest manufacturer of sporting equipment in the world. Established in 1950, the company is based in Helsinki, Finland...

. In the beginning of the 1990s, Marimekko was in a bad financial condition and was considered ready for bankruptcy. It was then bought from Amer by Kirsti Paakkanen, who introduced new business methods in the company and is generally seen as having saved Marimekko.

Later on the 1990s Marimekko achieved publicity in the hit series Sex and the City
Sex and the City
Sex and the City is an American television comedy-drama series created by Darren Star and produced by HBO. Broadcast from 1998 until 2004, the original run of the show had a total of ninety-four episodes...

. The fictional main character of the series, sex-and-relationship columnist Carrie Bradshaw
Carrie Bradshaw
Carrie Preston is the fictional narrator and lead character of the HBO sitcom/drama Sex and the City, portrayed by actress Sarah Jessica Parker. She is a semi-autobiographical character created by Candace Bushnell, who published the book Sex and the City, based on her own columns in the New York...

, wore a Marimekko bikini on the season 2 and later on, a Marimekko dress. On the fifth season the series also introduced tablecloths with Marimekko prints.

In 2005, Marimekko's revenue had quadrupled since Paakkanen's purchase, and its net income grown 200-fold. Kirsti Paakkanen remained CEO of Marimekko and owned 20 % of the company via her business Workidea. In 2007, Paakkanen announced she would gradually hand over her ownership to Mika Ihamuotila as CEO and biggest owner of the company.

In 2007, Marimekko began opening individually-owned Marimekko Concept Stores in the United States and Canada.

Currently there are stores located in New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Cambridge, Massachusetts
Cambridge is a city in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, United States, in the Greater Boston area. It was named in honor of the University of Cambridge in England, an important center of the Puritan theology embraced by the town's founders. Cambridge is home to two of the world's most prominent...

; Oxford, Mississippi
Oxford, Mississippi
Oxford is a city in, and the county seat of, Lafayette County, Mississippi, United States. Founded in 1835, it was named after the British university city of Oxford in hopes of having the state university located there, which it did successfully attract....

; Miami, Florida
Miami, Florida
Miami is a city located on the Atlantic coast in southeastern Florida and the county seat of Miami-Dade County, the most populous county in Florida and the eighth-most populous county in the United States with a population of 2,500,625...

; and Vancouver
Vancouver is a coastal seaport city on the mainland of British Columbia, Canada. It is the hub of Greater Vancouver, which, with over 2.3 million residents, is the third most populous metropolitan area in the country,...

, British Columbia
British Columbia
British Columbia is the westernmost of Canada's provinces and is known for its natural beauty, as reflected in its Latin motto, Splendor sine occasu . Its name was chosen by Queen Victoria in 1858...

. By September 2011 there were 84 stores across the world.

Marimekko chart

The Marimekko name has been adopted within business and the management consultancy industry to refer to a bar chart where all the bars are of equal height, there are no spaces between the bars, and the bars are in turn each divided into segments of different height. The design of the 'marimekko' chart is said to resemble a Marimekko print. The chart's design is ingenious, encoding two variables (such as percentage of sales and market share), but it is criticised for making the data hard to perceive and to compare visually.
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