Art | Designs on departure

FAREWELL: You only have until June 11 to see Marimekko: Design Icon 1951-2018. Picture: William Conroy, Press1 Photography
FAREWELL: You only have until June 11 to see Marimekko: Design Icon 1951-2018. Picture: William Conroy, Press1 Photography

Bendigo Art Gallery’s current exhibition Marimekko: Design Icon 1951-2018, now in its final days, explores the contributions of the many artists and designers who have worked with Marimekko over the years.

It charts the design house’s meteoric rise from the 1950s through to the present day with more than 60 outfits, swathes of original fabrics, homewares, sketches and other archival materials.

One significant designer featured in the exhibition is Annika Rimala, who was with Marimekko from 1960 to 1982. Her first role was with the children’s department, but within a year she obtained a coveted design position.

Brimming with bold colours and large imagery inspired by the era’s youth culture, Rimala’s style soon began to blossom with her timeless, distinctive designs appearing on the covers and pages of some of the world's leading fashion magazines. In 1968, she designed Marimekko's first cotton jersey collection, Tasaraita.

A symbol of equality, Tasaraita has since become a classic Marimekko design. Rimala was able to move beyond boundaries of gender, size and age and eventually became Marimekko’s chief fashion designer for more than 20 years.

Another major designer to have a lasting impact on Marimekko's clothing design, patterns and colours was Vuokko Eskolin-Nurmesniemi. With her architectural, clean-cut clothing, Vuokko disrupted the dress codes and conventions of the 1950s and focussed on the liberation of women. 

Through her revolutionary fabric designs, Vuokko also achieved a never-before-seen sophistication in colour combinations, overlapping colours during the printing process. This technique has since become Marimekko's signature style, being revisited and reinvented by contemporary Marimekko designers. 

Exclusive to Bendigo Art Gallery, Marimekko: Design Icon examines how Marimekko has remained true to its original vision; to create distinctive, timeless designs that bring joy to everyday life. Open daily until 5pm Monday June 11.