The Nordic Kitchen: Marimekko Apron and Pot Holders

Marimekko Oyj is a Finnish home furnishings, textiles, and fashion company based in Helsinki.

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Marimekko, (meh-ruh-meh-kow) which means ‘Mary dress’ is famous for their colorful and daring patterns that truly stand out. Their assortment of products often clad in bold and beautiful patterns includes fabrics, tableware, and home  décor products.  Marimekko is particularly noted for its brightly colored printed fabrics and simple styles, used both in women's garments and in home furnishings. 
The company’s product portfolio includes high-quality clothing, bags and accessories as well as home décor items ranging from textiles to tableware.

The Marimekko company was formed by Armi Ratia when she was developing bold new patterns for her husband’s small printing company. Ratia was from the Karelia region, a remote area known for its stunning natural beauty. Combining this background with additional inspiration from Japanese art, she created the recognisable Marimekko floral patterns.  

With the help of designers Riitta Immonen and Maija Isola, the first fashion show was held in 1951 and was an instant success. Customers were hugely impressed by the clean cuts, pleasing patterns, and bright colours, and so the Marimekko company was formed and the first store opened in Helsinki. The company also found ways to revolutionise fabric-printing techniques, allowing for mass production, which made clothing more accessible to customers.

By the 1960s, Marimekko was a big player in the fast-changing world of fashion. First lady Jacqueline Kennedy bought seven Marimekko dresses and wore one on the cover of Sports Illustrated, bringing attention to the brand in the United States.  From there, it became a globally recognized brand, frequently appearing in top fashion magazines and stores throughout the world.

It wasn’t only the celebrity plug which made Marimekko so popular. Women appreciated that the dresses were pretty enough to be worn in town but still functional enough to be worn around the house. Its bags, too, made good accompaniments to an outfit, but could still be used for grocery shopping.

While the quality makes Marimekko clothing more expensive than other high street brands, it does make them long-lasting. The company has always been at the forefront of fabric-printing technology, adapting to flat-screen printing in the 1970s and digital screen making in the 2000s.

The success of Marimekko helped turn the small and relatively obscure country of Finland into a world leader in textile design. The unique aesthetics have inspired many other fashion designers and fine artists.  Even the Swedish furniture store IKEA has a similar design philosophy to Marimekko. Both have used mass production and simple Scandinavian design to become household names. There are noticeable similarities in their patterns, so much so that interior designers often find that the two brands complement each other well.

I have found Marimekko's kitchen textiles bring joy to both cooking and to my Nordic Kitchen.  Here are some of my favorite Marimekko kitchen textiles:

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