Marimekko Designer Profile – Erja Hirvi

Erja Hirvi

Textile designer Erja Hirvi has worked for Marimekko since 1995, mainly designing printed patterns. Her understated and often playful patterns have appeared on Marimekko fabrics and other interior decoration products as well as clothing and bags.

Erja Hirvi, how did you become a textile designer?
I first studied weaving and my teacher suggested that I apply for entry into the University of Art and Design Helsinki. I was happy to find the right school. Before that, I even considered becoming an actress.

Where do you get your ideas for your fabrics?
I’m inspired by nature as a whole, all that it contains and brings forth. On the other hand, the idea for a pattern can come from almost anything. If you keep your eyes open and slip into “designer mode”, you can see ideas everywhere. I may even stare at empty windows and spaces and imagine a certain type of fabric for them.

What are the stages of the design process?
The transition from idea to realisation is actually the most difficult part, because I often find it hard to start drawing. I usually sketch with a felt pen or a pencil and ink; then I draw a draft image that I colour with ink or gouache. I copy themes or motifs, placing them in different compositions and scales. Finally, I paint the original, which is then scanned. And then I go on to the colours.

Do you have a special place where you prefer to work?
My own studio and its big, white, empty table. It invites drawing. It is important to have a so-called working environment. I sometimes work at home, but it doesn’t suit me as well.

How would you describe your style as a designer?
Reduced, naïve and playful. I don’t design any particularly painterly patterns.

What is the most important quality of a designer?
There are many important qualities. A good combination is humility and judgement merged with playfulness and an open mind.

What are the best uses for your fabric designs?
I like variety and imagination in the use of textiles. In other words, they are best suited to what the user has is mind.

What’s it like to design for Marimekko?
It is rewarding, though quite hurried at times. It’s a fine experience to work for a company that does not follow the mainstream and has the courage to take risks. Otherwise, nothing new would ever be created.

What’s the best, the most important thing about your work?
The fact that it provides personal pleasure and may possibly bring joy to other people as well. Colours are especially important for me, and it is just as exciting each time to see the first print of a new fabric.

How would you describe yourself?
I am easily enthused, though I’m quite sceptical. I’m a rationalist with the mind of a child.

What do you dream about?
I dream of gardens, holiday cottages, the seashore… The scent of flowers is a thing that has completely enraptured me recently. Flowers in general are astounding and extremely beautiful things.

Below are some Erja Hirvi’s designs – Browse even more of Erja Hirvi designs at AlwaysMod.




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