Confession. Your scribe Christmas self-gifted on her way to the Anne Kyyrö Quinn reception last week. Signposted by a clock on the pavement of the retail juggernaut that is Oxford Street, St Christopher’s Place is a wee lane with enticing small shops. Marimekko is one. The siren song of a horizontally striped poncho was sufficient to shipwreck your scribe at the cash till. “Inspired by Finnish autumnal nature with its wonderful colours”, the “Pasma” poncho was designed by Noora Niinikoski for the 2012 Autumn collection.
D/R – Design Research – was the first US retail apostle for Scandinavian and Marimekko lifestyle design. From its founding in 1953 until bankruptcy in 1978, D/R was an extraordinary store. Its founder was an architect and associate of Walter Gropius, and its employees seemed to know they were working for a visionary store that would leave its mark and inspire Scandinavian design acolytes like Crate & Barrel.
The lure of the poncho includes its resemblance to Pendleton’s famous striped National Park wool blankets. But its brand allure is strong too. When your scribe was a sprite, Marimekko was attractively foreign, decidedly exotic (Finland!). and its bright, happy designs magnetic. The fortunes of Marimekko waned in the 1980s (timeline), but in 2012 Marimekko is making a full court press to penetrate the US market with stand-alone stores and more “shop-in-shops”.
Marimekko founder Armi Ratia envisioned a global “Marimekko Village”. A renewed push to establish Marimekko “meeting places” (i.e stores) throughout the world means there is ample time for many more design sprites to attach themselves to the happy patterns of Marimekko. DJ