Marimekko’s design archive appears tame in contrast to the vibrant patterns this Finnish design company is known for creating. Rows of white shelves on tracks and enormous cardboard boxes line the room, which is located at the back of the Marimekko headquarters in Helsinki, Finland. Although the space is bare and colorless, it’s what is beyond the surface that Marimekko fanatics will find intriguing.
Tucked away neatly and orderly is 60+ years of Marimekko history. On one shelf sits dozens of yards of press clipping albums. Thumbing through them is like traveling in a time machine and witnessing epic moments in Marimekko’s past. Everything from Marimekko’s first fashion show to Jacqueline Kennedy’s Marimekko purchases, as well as captivating interviews with Marimekko’s founder Armi Ratia can be found in these albums.
Boasting an astonishing 3,500 prints, it’s a given that fabrics, color samples, catalogs, ads and articles of clothing are stored in the design archive. This library of patterns and colors is referenced whenever there is a desire to reproduce an old pattern, a frequent event especially with Marimekko’s interior fabric and clothing collections. However, for some, not a trace of the pattern remains. In these situations, prints can still be reproduced using an old photograph.
A collection of Marimekko-related ephemera, photographs and written material also line the shelves in the design archive. Among these items is a long tablecloth used at countless parties at Marimekko’s Bökars villa. Faded by the sun and full of coffee stains, this is sheer evidence of Marimekko’s rich history.
Valuable in nature, the Marimekko design archive is both a key to the company’s past and a driver of its future. As the Finnish powerhouse continues to forge its future, it may also need to build a second room.