design for a happy life

Feb. 1, 2014 – May 11, 2014 This exhibition has ended
Dress and hat, Annika Rimala, Piilo, 1966
designers Linssi and Kaarina Kellomäki
Kunsthal Rotterdam presents, in collaboration with design museum Helsinki, an extensive retrospective of the Finnish design brand Marimekko. Since it was established in 1951, the Marimekko company mission has been to improve the quality of life through fashion and design.

This exhibition examines Marimekko as the cultural heritage of a Finland that in 1951 had only recently become independent, as well as the modernity of Marimekko's characteristic design. The concept stores in Seoul, Berlin and New York show how very dynamic the brand still is. Nowadays, Marimekko is known all over the world as the icon of Finnish design. Whatever you think of them, the bright, clear designs always make a lasting impression; you either love them or you hate them.

Style icon Jackie Kennedy

Economically broken by the reparations it was paying to the Soviet Union, Post-war Finland was in desperate need of optimism and progress. In the new, democratic spirit of the time, Marimekko took a leading role in determining new, progressive trends.The striking fabric designs, incorporated into fashion and soft furnishings, offered colour and simplicity. The introduction of the Marimekko brand also caused a sensation in the rest of Europe. The informal, wide flowing dresses offered greater freedom of movement and people considered the simple shapes in clear, lively colours and patterns to be fresh and liberating. The fabric design was more important than the cut, which served primarily as a ‘carrier' for the strong colours of the modern art-inspired designs. Visitors to the exhibition will see a richly diverse retrospective of Marimekko fabrics, fashion, shoes, soft furnishings, crockery and other materials and products. The pink dress worn by style icon Jackie Kennedy as a symbol of the new era was depicted on the cover of Sports Illustrated - bringing the brand instant world fame - and can also be seen at the exhibition.

01 - Stofontwerp (vlnr) Kaivo, 1964, Mansikkavuoret 1969, Keisarinkruunu 1967, Nooa 1961, Ontwerper Maija Isola.jpg
Designs Kaivo, 1964, Mansikkavuoret 1969, Keisarinkruunu 1967, Nooa 1961, designer Maija Isola

Unikko celebrates fifty years

Marimekko's founder, and the driving force behind the brand until her death in 1979, was the charismatic and visionary entrepreneur Armi Ratia. Right from the start, she worked with a team of young female designers including Maija Isola, Annika Rimala and Vuokko Nurmesniemi. Ratia gave them the freedom to experiment and follow their own creative impulses, which resulted in successful and highly individual designs. The best known of these is the brightly-hued Unikko floral design, which is to celebrate its Golden Jubilee in 2014. Designer Maija Isola took these flower patterns and adapted them in her own, unconventional fashion, enlarging them to immense proportions and in doing so making Unikko one of Marimekko's most popular designs. The collaboration between Ratia and these progressive designers brought forth original and adventurous designs. Attention to detail has always been important to Marimekko, and the brand has achieved a high level of quality. Modern yet traditional, Finnish yet international, sober yet bold. Experience a world of contrasts at the ‘marimekko. design for a happy life' exhibition.


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04 - Stofontwerp Unikko 1964 Ontwerper Maija Isola.jpg
Design Unikko, 1964, designer Maija Isola
02 - Stofontwerp (vlnr) Vihkiruusu, Maalaisruusu, Unikko, Kukka,Maruna,1963_1964 Ontwerpers Maija Isola en Annika Rimala.jpg
Designs: Vihkiruusu, Maalaisruusu, Unikko, Kukka,Maruna,1963/1964, designers Maija Isola and Annika Rimala, photo Harri Kivilinna