A MARIMEKKO WEEKEND

Marimekko Weekend Header image

I’m well back in the land of reality after a [insert many superlatives here] time overseas and of course my ultimate highlight being the Marimekko weekend!

Ready for the recap? Settle in as this is a long and pic heavy post!

After close to 30 hours of travelling, we arrived somewhat bleary eyed in Helsinki at the rather unrespectable hour of 6.15 am. We were the farthest flung winners but the first to arrive and were greeted by two very cheery and lovely Team Marimekko ladies, bearing Unikko bags, big smiles and there was excited hugs all round. We spent the rest of the day acclimating to the local time, wandering around Helsinki, eating lovely sugary baked goodies at Kanniston Leipomo (If you find yourself in Helsinki, coffee and a pastry here are well worth scheduling in!)

The next morning we were all picked up from our hotel to travel out to the Marimekko factory. There were 11 other winners from around the world aside from myself, with their partners. Everyone was collectively pinching themselves β€” yes, we’re really here and this is actually happening β€” OMG!!! take a deep breath and act cool now…

After arrival at Marimekko HQ, we were warmly greeted by staff and officially welcomed. Here we all are below β€” Craig and I are at the top right. As for our youngest member at the front. Isn’t she adorable?

Marimekko_wekend_winners
Photo courtesy of Marimekko

We started our guided tour in the archives where the history of Marimekko was detailed, including some of the original textile designs and clothing patterns which were on display. Some of the textile printing shortcomings of the time actually turned into some of Marimekko’s deliberate design features like overprinting to create other colours. You can see this below in the Maija Isola designed fabric. Maija Isola designed Unikko and all up over 500 designs for Marimekko spanning 40 years – wowsers!

It was fascinating to see all the colour swatch variations of the iconic Unikko design, over 80 unique colourways over the last 50 years, each reflecting the colours reflective of that era in time.

archives_1

It’s staggering to think that thousands of Marimekko prints have managed to accumulate over the decades. Classic prints find themselves in Marimekko’s clothing collections each year, a true testament to the fact that great design is truly timeless.

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Next we were onto the textile printing factory, where the magic happens. It’s great to see a company committed to keeping manufacturing local, with two huge printing presses that produce over a million metres of fabric each year (how’s that for the ultimate fabric stash!).

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Marimekko rotary press

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Marimekko have two printing machines, a rotary press and a flatbed printer. In my pictures you can see the rotary printer in action. The colour is applied to the fabric through a thin mesh which is attached to a metal frame. Both printers can print up to 12 colours in one pattern and each colour has its own screen as you can see below:

rotary_printer_screens

print-rollers

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Look at the amazing ink colours! All mixed to perfection in the ‘colour kitchen”
Marimekko QC station
The fabric goes through quite a few processes at different workstations. Steaming, washing, finishing and the quality inspection process. The quality inspection process is amazing. All done by expert eyes, only 4 small errors per 15 metres are allowed, and are so miniscule you or I would probably never see them.

Fabric rolls
Just back the truck in, I’ll take the lot!

We were then taken to the art department, where we were walked through the process of how a design is transformed into a printable pattern repeat for fabric. Below you can see Petri, the head of the art studio, holding up an example of an artists’ work transformed into the fabric behind him. One very interesting design was first presented as branches glued together. This became the very popular Lumimarja (snowberry) fabric, the inspiration being nature in winter.

art-department

lumimarja

lumimarja

The artist Erja Hervi, added berries to the branches. So lovely.

After all this wonderfulness, we were treated to lunch in Maritori cafe on the premises, with their designers. I was lucky enough to be seated next to the lovely Sofia, who as chance would have it designed the very dress I was wearing *mind blown* !
Across from us was Teemu, who was crazy enough to love the our accents, having spent a few years working in fashion in Australia.
maritori_lunch

After lunch we made a mad dash to the on premises store and outlet (yes, they have an outlet store – put it on your bucket list, trust me on that one), where I went a little out of my mind. They also sell apparel fabric like lovely sateens and even jersey. I think I came away with over 10m of various designs, as well as some RTW clothes and jewellery. You’ll be seeing a fair bit of this fabric in posts to come!

That night we went out to Juuri for dinner and the next day a guided tour of Kiasma contemporary art museum’s exhbition “Together”, produced jointly by Kiasma and Marimekko. Check it out here

Of course I was the embarrassing one who got all teary when the weekend was over, but such great memories! I can’t thank our lovely hosts enough. So warm, welcoming and humble. To everyone who was part of this process, Steve, Celine, Marja, Anna, Hanna and Aino β€”thank you thank you thank you!

  • I am so glad you had a wonderful time… I have a confession to make.. I went into the Marimekko shop for the first time last month… OMG…. I know what you mean.

    • It is a bit OMG isn’t it! I hope you spoilt yourself with a little something.

  • Lexie this looked extraordinary! I’m so glad you had an amazing time! And how awesome to get some of their apparel fabrics. One day I’ll get there. i mean it 100% when I say I cannot wait to see what you make!

    • Thanks Sarah! I’ll have to stop staring lovingly at the fabric, pull my finger out and make something πŸ˜‰