January 04, 2012

A Colorful History of Finnish Design on Display in Istanbul

A traveling exhibition documenting the 60-year history of Finnish design company Marimekko is currently on display at Milli Reasürans Art Gallery in Istanbul’s Teşvikiye district.


The exhibition, which was originally shown by the Helsinki Design Museum, enables one to observe the historical development of the company through its colorful textiles, photos and other archival material.

Textile designer Armi Ratia founded Marimekko and its first retail store in 1952.

Harri Kivilinna, the curator of the show, explained to Today’s Zaman that after World War II, in Finland, there was a lack of material commodities because they had lost the war to the Soviet Union and been made to pay war reparations.

“It was an energetic time with people enterprising small companies. Armi Ratia wanted to create something new, something that [didn’t] have anything to do with the past. She thought about creating a company that was going to make fabrics and costumes out of fabrics that [were] totally new looking, not like the traditional ones. Her husband already had a small printing house, and she invited all kinds of friends of hers to come and start doing something new,” Kivilinna recounted.

The first Marimekko designer to become truly famous was Vuokko Nurmesniemi. She had very modernist ideas about design, believing that everything had to be simple and functional.

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