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Antti Kekki and Matts Bjolin add new dimensions to Marimekko’s prints

Graphic and surface designer and illustrator Kekki and art director and multi-disciplinary designer Bjolin studied graphic design together in the same class at the Aalto University, School of Arts Design and Architecture. They always sat next to each other in the back row. 

Over the years, they’ve done many projects together and the latest one, the first out of four capsules called Co-created to celebrate Marimekko’s 70th anniversary, is launched today.

— The collection is based on the brand’s most well-known prints by Maija Isola: Unikko (poppy), Kivet (stones), and Lokki (seagull), the duo tells. We also combined quotes by Marimekko’s founder Armi Ratia, as well as photographs from past decades together with these prints. The idea was to look at Marimekko with new eyes and bring something new while using existing elements familiar to the brand. 

The capsule consists of versatile and relaxed clothing, such as t-shirts, sweatshirts, shirts, sneakers, and a tote bag, and a home collection, including trays, mugs, plates, a cushion cover, and a blanket.

— For this capsule, we gave Maija Isola’s prints a new expression by framing them with printing screens, and, by doing so, strengthening and emphasising the handicraft in printing. This was also a nod to Marimekko’s history of printmaking and a homage to the factory in Herttoniemi, Helsinki, where many patterns are still printed today. Our goal was to draw from Armi Ratia’s ability to see classics in a new way. Not by changing them, but by finding a new way to look at them, the duo says.

I’m curious about the special printing techniques you used for it. Could you tell us more?

— We used digital prints, silkscreen prints, embroidery, patchwork, and velvet flocking. We really wanted to create different layers with the different techniques, by, for example, having photos digitally printed on the fabric with the Marimekko logo embroidered on top, or having photos attached as patches to the products. Some patterns were elevated with velvet flocking while others were silk screen printed. In the home collection, we also had the patterns woven into a blanket, says Kekki and Bjolin, adding,

— In the end, people have seen many of these iconic prints for decades. Essentially, we wanted to make a part of these well-known prints more tactile and more three dimensional.

Marimekko’s 70th anniversary will continue with three more Co-created capsules. In May — the official anniversary month — they will publish a special art book, written by Vogue’s Laird Borelli-Persson, together with Thames & Hudson. And, also in late spring, the brand will launch an online Pre-Loved fashion pilot, offering one of a kind vintage dresses for sale.

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