July 30, 2012

Mari-Mecca

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This morning I had the privilege of being invited to tour the Helsinki factory and headquarters of a design company I love:  the iconic Marimekko.  Founded more than 60 years ago, it is a brand that is classic, continually renews itself, and exudes integrity—to its very fiber.

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Walking around Helsinki the past few days, I’ve been struck by how many people there wear something Marimekko; a striped shirt, poppy print hat, dress, or tote. 

While most of the factory was on July holiday with operations shut down, a PR specialist took us around the quiet plant, making the process come alive.  Seeing the scale and complexity of Marimekko’s operation, the company culture that came across reinforced and augmented my original impressions.  Time is important for output:  As a textile designer it was interesting to learn that it takes one year for each silkscreened print to be made, from initial concept to final printed product. 

Some of the production process is automated, but the ultimate quality of the printed fabrics depend on the human eye—there is someone who has been with the company for 30 years who examines each panel of a print for any defects.

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Now when I wear my jokapoika shirt or Iloinen takki patchwork pocket dress, it will be with a new perspective and appreciation. 

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