Current Obsession: Marimekko’s enduring pop art appeal
Marimekko floral prints and bold designs defined casual cool for five decades. Here, a visual primer on the company that fills Pinterest with pop art
Even if you don’t know the name Marimekko, chances are you’ve spotted the design company’s iconic faux naïf patterns on bed linens, shoes and iPod cases. Finnish textile designer Armi Ratia first created the playfully garish pop art prints in the early ’50s, and by the ’60s, they were everywhere. (Jackie Kennedy was the company’s most famous early adopter.) The designs, which manage to be simultaneously sexy and twee, are more popular than ever in this era of Pinterest and all things artisanal. An exhibition on Marimekko, ongoing at the Textile Museum, pays tribute to the company’s flower power past, with floor-to-ceiling prints, vintage ads and articles, and age-of-aquarius quotations from Ratia. (“There is only one responsibility—beauty. There is only one reality—a dream. There is only one strength—love.”) Much of the material in the exhibit comes from the archives of Janis Kravis, the Latvian-born architect who, in 1959, opened Karelia, a combination café, studio and store in Toronto that specialized in Marimekko designs. The place quickly became an oasis of cool and the city’s entry point for the anti-drab aesthetics of Scandinavian modernism. Ratia died in 1979, the same year Karelia closed its doors, but Marimekko’s flowers continue to bloom.
Marimekko: With Love
Textile Museum of Canada
To April 21