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The print that defied floral norms

jasmine alimin
jasmine alimin • 3 min read
The print that defied floral norms
As Marimekko celebrates its 60th anniversary, the iconic Unikko print remains a vibrant symbol of creativity in design.
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Certain patterns and prints can transcend time and cultural boundaries in the design and fashion world, becoming symbols of creativity and expression. One such timeless masterpiece is Marimekko’s Unikko print, which, as it celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, stands as a testament to the enduring power of innovative design.
Established in 1951 by Finnish entrepreneur Armi Ratia, Marimekko has a unique philosophy rejecting conventional floral prints. Ratia firmly believed that the genuine essence of a flower could not be captured through mere replication on fabric. Consequently, floral patterns were intentionally omitted from Marimekko collections.

In a bold creative rebellion, in-house textile designer Maija Isola challenged this notion and envisioned Unikko as an abstract flower representation, avoiding photorealistic renditions. In this defiance of established norms, she gave birth to a design showcasing large-scale asymmetrical poppies that would later evolve into a cultural phenomenon.
Creative director Rebekka Bay shares the brand’s design philosophy: “A big part of Marimekko is the meeting of nature and architecture, which is translated into the product’s design and functionality. As much as prints are about bringing joy and beauty, we are also very pragmatic, utilitarian and functionality-focused. Our designs can be very considered but very bold at the same time.”

Today, Unikko stands proudly as a vibrant symbol of joy and creativity, intricately woven into the fabric of Marimekko’s design identity. Isola’s innovative approach reaffirms that creativity, bringing joy, finds its place even in the most unconventional corners. Unikko transcends being merely a print — it celebrates individuality, breaking free from tradition while radiating an exuberant spirit.

See also: Radiating flair

Year of celebrations
As it marks six decades of existence, Marimekko plans to honour this milestone with activations, fashion shows and exclusive merchandise this year. In January, a special light projection showcased the print on the façade of the Ateneum Art Museum in Helsinki.
In February, Marimekko paid tribute to the Unikko print while unveiling its Fall-Winter 2024 collection at the National Gallery of Denmark. The brand plans to host additional celebratory events in Tokyo, New York, and Shanghai in the coming months, along with a showcase at Milan Design Week.
“Unikko is our most recognisable print that we are constantly reinterpreting,” says Bay, who specialises in trend forecasting and colour work. “For 2024, we are playing with heavy contradictions in scale and colour that will transcend all our product offerings. For Spring, we are doing a new mural in a new colourway. For Summer, we’re doing a positive-negative of the print.”

Marimekko will continue honouring Unikko’s timeless print, drawing from its comprehensive archive of over 3,500 patterns. “We should be concerned with building another 70 years of prints. To stay relevant and engage with our consumers, we constantly work with artists and print designers to create new patterns and roll them out every season,” adds Bay.
For the latest Unikko merchandise, visit Marimekko’s flagship store in Singapore at Ion Orchard. This unique lifestyle concept store is managed by Tanachira SEA, the same entity overseeing the brand in Thailand.

See also: V-Zug is at Milan Design Week

Merging modern Nordic aesthetics with a universal charm, the store features a retail section offering ready-to-wear, accessories, home collections and an adjoining café. Beyond its culinary offerings, the café doubles as a showroom, showcasing how Marimekko products effortlessly integrate into customers’ lifestyles.
Launching its Singapore branch marks a strategic move for Marimekko as it focuses on scaling its business in international markets, especially in the Asia-Pacific region. Singapore is the brand’s seventh Asian market after Japan, Mainland China, Thailand, Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan. 

 

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