A Dozen Designers with Degrees


It’s the first week back to school for many of our stylish scholars, and I can bet that some are less than thrilled about cracking open the books again. If the new Marimekko gear for the fall semester highlighted in our previous posts (here and here) wasn’t enough to motivate you to work your hardest, then perhaps the possibility of following in the footsteps of some of your favorite designers is. I’ve compiled a list of 12 designers who scored a spot on Marimekko’s design team after their schooling, some of who got lucky right away and others who had to keep working for it after they left the classroom.maija-100

1. Maija Isola Graduated from the Helsinki Central School of Industrial Arts in 1949, and started at Marimekko two years later. She went on to become the most-known designer of the brand and arguably one of the most noteworthy names in Finnish design history. Her iconic poppies pattern, called “Unikko”, is recognized worldwide. Learn more about the legend in our previous profile on her here. 

2. erja-100Erja Hirvi After being advised to do so by a teacher who had faith in her abilities, she went to the University of Art & Design in Helsinki and received her Master of Arts in Textile Design in 1997.  Starting at Marimekko before she even graduated in 1995, Hirvi went on to create some of the most beloved Marimekko patterns such as the stunning Lumimarja. Read more about her story with Marimekko in our previous post here.sami

3. Sami Ruotsalainen Started at Marimekko in 2001, four years before he even graduated from the University of Art & Design in Helsinki with his Masters in Ceramic and Glass Design. If he wasn’t a designer, he said he would have been a chef. A close second, he went on to design Marimekko’s line of Oiva dinnerware including the new Weather Diary Collection.

4. sannaSanna Annukka Walked out of the University of Bright in 2005 with a BA in Illustration, and started selling her folklore-inspired screen printings shortly after. These caught the eye of British band Keane, who featured her artwork on their album cover. Marimekko too wanted these striking patterns on their products, and welcomed her aboard in 2008. Get to know her more in our previous post about Sanna here. annika

5. Annika Rimala Graduated from the Institute of Industrial Arts in Helsinki in 1956 with a degree in Graphic Arts. She started at Marimekko three years later in the children’s department, before working her way up to become designer in the factory and eventually the chief fashion designer, a top position she held for 20 years.

6. maija-l-100Maija Louekari Received her Masters in Design in 2004 and BA in Interior Decoration from the University of Arts & Design in Helsinki. After winning the The Setting for a Young Life competition with her Hetkiä design, she wowed Marimekko and joined its team of designers in 2003. Want more Maija? Continue reading here.mika-100

7. Mika Piirainen Studied Fashion Design at the Lahti Institute of Design, and both graduated and started at Marimekko in 1994. He has designed clothing, hats, and umbrellas for men, women and children, but his collection of handbags are some of the most swooned over. Find out more about this accessory guru here.

katsuji-1008. Katsuji WakisakaAfter graduating from the Kyoto School of Art and Design, he became the first Japanese designer to join the Marimekko team in 1968. Known for creating the zooming automobiles on the Bo Boo print, he most recently graced us with several new items in his Pähkinäpuu print.fujiwo-100

9. Fujiwo IshimotoAlso graduating from the Kyoto School of Art and Design in 1964, it wasn’t until ten years later that he permanently joined the Marimekko team. Previously, he worked for a company involved in the design and production of Marimekko canvas bags, where he first got a taste for Finnish design. His first patterns didn’t immediately have the “Marimekko feel,” but he soon found his voice as a designer and continues to contribute his works.

jenni-10010. Jenni Tuominen Always knowing she wanted to work with her hands, she first graduated in 1996 as a blacksmith and then as a printmaker in 2001. She also recently returned to the University of Art & Design in Helsinki to study graphic design. Tuominen officially started creating her colorful patterns for Marimekko in 2010, but won their “Design, Meet the User!” Competition in 2006. Read more about Jenni in our previous post here.anu-100

11. Anu Penttinen– Obtained her Master of Arts in 2002 from the University of Arts and Design in Helsinki, but also studied glass at the Australian National University. She is most known for her creation of the “Socks Rolled Down” glassware line, setting tables with playful shapes and bright colors.

ville-10012. Ville SilvennionenAfter studying engineering for a year, he realized he really wanted to be creating art and was accepted to the textile design program at Alvar Aalto’s School of  Art and Design. A former party boy, he also loves to surf, travel and play sports, but had to put some interests aside to work at getting into Marimekko’s apprentice program. He succeeded, and designed his first pattern for Marimekko in autumn of 2012. Read his entire fascinating story in our previous post here.

Images and information courtesy of Marimekko.

Which Marimekko designer’s story inspires you most? Share your thoughts below!

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