Modern, minimal, it's still selling Design: After half a century, Finland's Marimekko stays strong in international market.

August 25, 1996|By Rita St. Clair | Rita St. Clair,LOS ANGELES TIMES SYNDICATE

Whenever I turn my sights to what some stylists call "minimalist design," my taste almost always tends toward something produced by Marimekko.

A full half-century after the Finnish firm first introduced its distinctively modernist fabrics, I still find that no one is better at this sort of thing. Marimekko continues to turn out consistently strong designs for an international market.

Tastes do change, however. And what we now refer to as minimalism design was simply termed "good" design by the interior fashion gurus of the 1950s.

Today, it's rare to come across the silhouetted, graphic-style forms in bright primary colors that were a Marimekko trademark 50 years ago. Back then, however, no one used fabric borders on curtains and bedspreads -- nor, for that matter, would borders have been found on papered or painted walls in contemporary-style interiors.

End-of-the-century designs, as we all know, are a lot looser and more all-inclusive than the mid-century models. I guess it's not surprising, then, to see the return of Marimekko's graphic designs -- this time in pastels and naturals as well as in primary colors.

The bed and pillow covering shown in the photo is called "Lokki," which means "wave" in Finnish. It's combined in this instance with color-coordinated stripes of varying widths as a means of accentuating the architecture of a bedroom that has sloping walls and dormer windows.

Borders are also introduced here to coordinate the different patterns. The borders themselves are varied in color and appearance and are chosen to combine with one another, much in the manner of a traditional setting. In rooms with that kind of styling, we might see variously sized and designed wood moldings used in combination with one another to produce a decorative effect at ceiling height or at chair-rail level.

The same approach is taken here, though with a contemporary twist. That's typical of Marimekko -- always finding new ways to present familiar designs.

Pub Date: 8/25/96

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