Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Let's go Marimekko!

Have you ever had a fabric move you? You know you see it and just know all of your clothes and everything in your house must be made out of it immediately? Ok probably not, but if you saw the Marimekko fabric line used to make a number of the shades at LiT, your fabric world would be rocked.

The Marimekko Corporation was established in 1951 and since then has become the leading Finnish textile and clothing design world wide. Marimekko actually started off as Printex, a company which produced oilcloth and printed fabrics but was purchased by Viljo and Armi Ratia, in 1949. The always innovative Armi decided to commission young artists to design fabric prints for the company, which resulted in entirely new, boldly colored and patterned fabrics. People admired them, but did not really know what use they could have (duh lamp shades). So it was decided to make a small collection of clothing to demonstrate the uses of the fabrics. A separate company was established called Marimekko Oy to make the clothing. The first Marimekko collection was designed by Riitta Immonen and was presented to the Finnish public in a fashion show at the Kalastajatorppa restaurant in Helsinki in May 1951, a year later the first Marimekko retail shop opened.

In a 1960 trip to Europe, Jacqueline Kennedy bought seven Marimekko cotton frocks on a single occasion making Marimekko fabric suddenly know world wide. Jacqueline Kennedy did for Marimekko what Michelle Obama has done with the colorful ensembles of Maria Pinto. With such a heated election, Jacqueline Kennedy’s fashion sense made headlines, thus pushing Marimekko to the front of the pack for U.S. fashion. During the election, Marimekko patterns and styles appeared on the pages of some 400 newspapers and magazines.

Marimekko has continued to be one of the forerunners in fabric and textile manufacturing today and now has retail stores throughout the U.S. They also organize the "Design: meet the user," a design competition which aims to find fresh ideas for Marimekko's interior decor line, very similar to how Armi Ratia established the company in the first place, so many years ago.
So where can you find Marimekko now? Well, the clothing and home accessories can also be found down at Tuuli on First Ave. near the Pike Place market. If you want to see what Marimekko looks like illuminated- come into LiT and see one of the shades made out of the Vanita's print (Dawn's favorite) design your own shade using one of the many classic and contemporary Marimekko prints carried in the store. You know I will.

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