In 1951 Armi and Viljo Ratia transformed the company Printex to create Marimekko. Making clothes cut with a monastic purity and luxuriously printed, the brand’s identity very quickly found its fans – one of whom was Jackie Kennedy, who bought seven dresses in 1960, appearing in the crowd wearing Marimekko on the cover of Sports Illustrated.
Multicoloured stripes, oversized spots, seventies flowers, graphic designs, pencil drawings… Marimekko’s signature prints seem infinite yet are immediately recognisable. The brand designs its own patterns, which are drawn and printed in their three Finnish units.
The idea for the finished product begins in the artwork studio: the designer delivers a first sketch which is transformed into a printing pattern. The colours are defined (there can be up to twelve) and the designer’s original vision is repeated so as to cover a large space of material. The printing screen stage then follows, a sort of silkscreen created using an emulsion that reacts to light. After drying in the oven and repeating the drawing with the help of a specific wax, the fabric is brought out to the light. The first prototype is thus made and the designer can see their drawing reproduced onto the fabric for the first time.
The printing process can begin. In the “kitchen of colours”, the mixtures are made in which the fabrics will be soaked using the printing machine. Eight people take part in this stage and a complex pattern can demand up to five people for the printing process. The colour is then fixed to the fibre using steam or hot air before being washed at 95 degrees. The final touches are made before the inspection, which is carried out by trained eyes which notice every irregularity.
The fabric can finally follow its destiny, eing used for clothes, bags, scarves, cushions, upholstery or even umbrellas.