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(established 1951)

Marimekko, one of the best‐known Finnish textile companies, was founded in Helsinki in 1951 by Armi and Viljö Ratia as the fashionable and creative arm of its parent company Printex, also established by them two years earlier. At Printex Armi Ratia set out to produce bold, experimental printed cotton textiles but after this failed to capture the public imagination she established Marimmeko. The aim of this new enterprise was to show the public ways in which printed textiles could provide exciting and colourful highlights in domestic interiors and clothing. Vuokko Nurmesniemi was appointed as chief designer from 1953 to 1960 and soon developed a distinctive ‘look’ in her bright and colourful clothing designs. Marimekko held its first fashion show in Stockholm in 1956 and gained further recognition with the display of its products at the Brussels World Fair of 1958. The company's designs were first imported to the USA in 1959 and a dramatic breakthrough in publicity and sales was made when fashion icon and American First Lady Jackie Kennedy purchased a number of Marimekko dresses. Far more casual in style than prevailing Parisian fashions their widespread appeal was considerable in a period when attitudes to dress were increasingly relaxed. During the 1960s the company expanded globally and was widely known for its casual, often unisex clothing aimed at a young, independent clientele immersed in the values of Pop. Typical of such designs were the bold, colourful geometric textile patterns by the painter Maija Isola which also reflected an awareness of American contemporary fine art practice. In addition to textiles and clothing the company also produced a wide range of other goods, including glassware and paper goods. In the later 1970s the company experienced some economic difficulties and was later taken over in 1985 by the Amer Group, a Finnish company. In the late 20th century the company's international appeal was considerable, with the production of wallpapers, furnishing textiles, bags, tableware, and other domestic products. In 2002 the company collaborated with Turku TV on the production of brightly patterned casings for televisions, making them items of interior decoration rather than anonymous pieces of technological equipment.

Subjects: Industrial and Commercial Art.

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