Marimekko’s 50th Unikko Anniversary

By Claudia Wood. 

When you think 50th birthdays, what comes to mind? Old drunken relatives stumbling around a backyard, wine in hand, talking about the ‘good, old days’? Well whatever bad example you have, scratch that, because Marimekko threw one hell of a 50th birthday.

50 years ago, Marimekko’s most iconic print was born. Maija Isola’s classic poppy print Unikko, was created in 1964, shortly after the company’s founder Armi Ratia announced that Marimekko would never print a floral pattern. In an act of rebellion, Isola created an entire collection of them, one of which would be remembered all over the world this year.

A fashion show in Helsinki, an exhibition in Washington, pop-up stores in New York, Stockholm and Tai-Pei, a Unikko Anniversary Lounge in Hong Kong and special displays in Seoul and Mexico City. In Sydney, however, a brightly coloured party was thrown in honour of the print – complete with DJs, champagne and of course, shopping. No signs of aging here!

It’s hard to miss the Marimekko store on King Street any other day, but last Thursday night it was impossible. The two story building was lit up from top to bottom with vibrant colours and vibrant people. Unikko printed bean bags sat outside the door for those seeking air from the action and inside was a sea of brightly dressed guests to celebrate the 50 years that the print had survived.

Marimekko’s first store opened in Helsinki in 1952 and the brand has always been famous for clean cuts and colourful patterns. Sixty-two years on and Marimekko produce not only beautiful pieces of clothing for men, women and children but an array of homewears; towels, kitchenware and wallpaper to name a few. The quirky styles have hardly changed and bring a touch of retro individuality to any room.

Let your imagination relax and step inside the Marimekko store. A DJ and disco ball are set up in the middle of the ground floor with Unikko prints hanging above them. Unikko umbrellas dangle from the ceiling while waiters serve champagne and appetizers, dressed in Unikko printed aprons. Guests browse the shelves and racks of crisp clothing, purchasing items for a chance to win a trip to Helsinki while colourful lights flash against the disco ball and project across the room. Of course there was the obligatory ‘Happy Birthday’ and cake to mark the occasion, what would a 50th birthday be without this?

Marimekko’s designs embody their core values; the courage to take a step into the unknown, living for yourself, following your own beacon, being fair to others around you and most importantly, joy. Being happy and kind is important to Marimekko and this is reflected in their designs and culture. Appealing to a wide audience, with colours, cuts and patterns, Marimekko’s personality is just like their clothes – fun, fabulous and many years young.

Photos by Claudia Wood. 

Marimekko - The F - 1-1

Marimekko - The F - 4

Marimekko - The F - 1-1

Claudia Wood




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