Maija Isola (1927–2001) designed her first printed textiles in 1949 for Printex Oy, Marimekko’s predecessor. She worked as head designer of Marimekko’s interior fabrics until 1987. She also had an illustrious career as a visual artist. Unikko from 1964 is the most widely known among her extremely popular fabric designs.
Maija Isola was a tremendously versatile and bold artist. She interpreted the events of her era from her own unique perspective and foresaw future trends. Her body of work includes over 500 prints – a brilliant selection of patterns representing different themes and techniques. She drew inspiration from traditional folk art, modern visual art, nature and her countless trips around the world. In 1970, Maija Isola wrote to her daughter from Paris: “Bon soir children. I’m having a wonderful time these days. I’ve started working. Once again, I feel as if I’ll never find the time to do even a fraction of all the things I want to do. – – I had a huge floral still-life of sorts spread out wet on the floor, waiting to be rolled up … paints in yoghurt pots, and newspaper everywhere, and flowers in vases on the floorboards. I bought those to paint from on Pentecost. Large deep-red roses, small and fragrant, curiously furry pink roses, yellow, orange and white poppies, cowslips in various shades of purple, black tulips and tiny carmine flowers whose name I don’t know.”
Maija Isola’s contributions are enormous. Below are just a few of the 100’s of prints she designed, some in collaboration with her daughter, Kristina Isola.