Making a Colorful Im’print’ with Marimekko Fashion Designers

With New York Fashion Week in full swing, it is easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of what is to come in the following seasons of fashion. But Marimekko is one company that has always been ahead of the curve, marching to their own drum when it comes to fashion – often times setting and predicting trends long before other design houses do. In light of all that is fashion week, we’ve got some excerpts of interviews with current Marimekko fashion designers about what influences them and how Marimekko design impacts their lives.

With Noora Niinikoski, Head of Fashion Design


Noora-Niinikoski, Head of Fashion Design

Colourful Impact-

“I tell everyone that Marimekko is about prints and colours. Each season we come out with different styles and patterns in big or small motifs. And often the prints influence what we make. It comes down to how the print relates to the body and the person’s silhouette because the prints are unique and have special character. Some people don’t relate with certain prints, and other people love them. And once you find the print you love, it highlights something about your character and how you express yourself. I feel it has the chance to make your daily life a little bit more fun and even fancy.

Marimekko also reflects the times we live in, though there’s always an element of Marimekko in the design. It’s difficult to explain what this element is, but it’s easy to spot it. It’s either there or it isn’t. Over the decades, Marimekko has come out with an incredible variety of prints, cuts, fits and new design approaches. Yet there’s always something that makes it feel like Marimekko such as a hand-made feeling, boldness, using the limits of textile printing techniques, and a sense of humour and positivity.

For instance, Marimekko print colours from the 60s and 70s were extremely intense. In the 80s, the Marimekko palette was more faded or washed. Today we use deeper shades of colours, including vibrant yellows, orange, and primary colours such as red and white. For our spring 2013 collection we’re looking at bringing a slightly white washed or milky tonality to new Marimekko prints.”

Balancing Act-

“I’m always looking for new design approaches. I want to achieve a feeling of effortlessness by getting a balance between control and out-of-control. Looseness and fun should be in the design. You never want to be too strict or rigid in your thinking. At the same time I’ve always designed textile patterns. It probably comes from my mother who was a textile designer. Since I was twenty years old, white as a colour hasn’t existed for me. I’ve always used colour in my design work, so working for Marimekko is a natural extension of what I do.

I enjoy the work of folklore and outsider artists. They design based on necessity. It’s part of their culture and personal life. They’re working with a limited set of materials and colours.  Yet these limitations allow them to create artworks that are close to perfect. These artworks reflect their life at the moment and their use of colours is just right. It’s not planned. It’s more in the moment – never too organized or perfect.

In fact, Marimekko has a lot in common with folklore or outsider artists. We’re always looking for a relaxed human feeling and high artistic values.  Our designs are never overly planned or constructed. Instead, they can be even sketchy and rough at times. I think this attitude makes us bold and distinct.”

With Mika Piirainen, Fashion Designer


Mika Piirainen, Fashion Designer

Here and Now-

“I’m always exploring the here and now. When I’m working on a collection, I build up a series of images that communicate the present and, to a certain degree, the future as well. These images have elements of colour, but I’m more interested in their atmosphere. I want them to comment on how seasonal change affects our everyday life.

When I choose patterns, I want the textile prints to communicate a unique feeling. You also need to respect the original print pattern. They are like human beings – you can’t cut them to pieces. So when I design a piece to showcase a certain print, I avoid changing the print too much.

I also feel that not all Marimekko clothing needs to have prints. I love working with solid colours or muted tones, because they help calm down the collection. The shape of the dress also makes my designs distinctly Marimekko.”

Proud to Wear Marimekko-

“Over the years, I’ve met people who enjoy owning and wearing pieces from my Marimekko collections. Not long ago, I was travelling in a remote part of Australia, where I bumped into someone with a bag I’d designed. It was one of those peculiar moments when you realize Marimekko is a small Finnish company that touches people’s lives around the world.

I especially enjoy when people wear a Marimekko piece almost down to the last thread. It means that you have a special relationship with the item. You cherish it.  I’ve also heard that Marimekko designs are considered humorous. I agree. Marimekko never takes itself too seriously – especially when it comes to prints.

I really don’t have a favourite piece. It’s like being a father – each of my designs for Marimekko is my favourite. I’ve also noticed that it takes years to appreciate your own work – especially your latest collection.  I need time away from my own work to see it in a new light again. This “stepping back” is an essential part of being a designer. It also lets you explore new elements in your design work. If you fell in love with your own design, you’d stop designing.”

Don’t forget, can  find the creations of Marimekko’s fashion designers and more at

What are your thoughts on Marimekko’s impact on the fashion world?

[ Excerpts and photo of Noora from Marimekko newsletter, photo of Mika from]

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