Tag Archives: Business

Marimekko. Conclusions.

marimekko, copyright, scandal

Image via Marimekko.fi

What a week. In my last post I talked about Mika Ihamuotila’s TV-interview, which didn’t go too well for him. If you remember, he got caught by surprise when the journalist showed him the picture from 1960’s. He still stayed in his position that no copying had happened but about 8 hours later, the company released a statement saying that Maija Louekari’s design was inspired by the Markku Leppo’s photograph.

I’ve linked to Kritiikkiblogi several times during my Marimekko-reporting, as he writes and argues more intelligently than most people (I included). His analysis of Hetkiä/Moments print is brutal and he says about the birth:

Maija Louekari’s drawing was born most likely like this:

1. Competition for young designer gets 21-year old student of Taik all excited
2. Louekari gets an idea to use a cityscape as a basis of her work
3. Urban Sketching is no longer in the curriculum of Taik, so she proceeds to the direction of Taik-library
4. She takes few photography books from the shelf, section 75 Graphics, Photography
5. Book by Markus Leppo, Helsinki ja helsinkiläiset 1966, is found.
6. The other copied photographs are found next to Leppo’s book, which “inspires” Louekari and she then proceeds to trace through even more winning images.
7. The (competition) win brings a profession, honour and glory.

About the technical aspects of Hetkiä he says:

My suspicions were raised by three issues: Urban Sketching-experience, pictures of different cities and few car details. Louekari wasn’t outside herself, in different cities, sketching and drawing. She traced through, which you can see in the closing patterns, even line thickness and the closing elements on the front that cover the backgrounds.

He finishes off with following conclusions:

-Marimekko’s CEO is constantly deceived by designers’ art ‘loans’, deceptions of birth of the art and covering up the chain of events.
-Marimekko’s communication manager betrayed the CEO: Mika Ihamuotila went to the interview armed with false information, wrong attitude to design and searching pity. The communication manager did a company-wide murder/suicide (with her actions).
-Marimekko’s owners are amazed how it’s main value giver, meaning artistic quality and value, is totally disregarded by its design directors as well as management.
-Marimekko’s creative direction has completely lost its way. (Kemell-Kutvonen and Karske)
-University of Art & Design and its teachers are, in their part, supporting the copying and stealing the birth of art when birthing art
-For years, has Louekari been aware of the copied Hetkiä-print on Barcelona-bags but haven’t defended her rights. Louekari has been avoiding confronting the bag because she herself copied her work by changing it, meaning covering the origin of her work. This proves a small feeling of shame and difficult forthcoming for a period of 10 years
-Marimekko may have intentionally adopted one of the main points of Moorhouse-effect, meaning, the deliberate covering of the birth of art. The picture from Esplanadi was taken, just in case, if someone asks after the background story.

When the second statement from Marimekko was released, it didn’t take long before industry people began arguing that copying happens all the time and it’s just the way things are. However, during Kristina Isola and Metsänväki-scandal, the union for designers, Ornamo, told in YLE-news that “designers rarely copy” but from the comments I’ve seen, designers in Finland do NOTHING but copy. Someone even tweeted that her design teacher said that nothing new can be made anymore, everything is done. I say, stop talking like this. You are arguing for running the design education to the ground and yourselves out of work.

Another aspect is that this past 6 months has been a steep learning curve for Finnish companies when it comes to communicating with the outside world. Marimekko has been making mistake after mistake, showing arrogance and disregard to their clients and fans in every turn. One of my Twitter-followers, Sami Sundell, sums things up in his blog: “It doesn’t matter at all how things are done within the business. You are not communicating to the insiders but to the audience.” He then proceeds with a comment about another tweet: “In a way Mika Porspakka is right: copyright isn’t necessarily relevant in this case. It doesn’t change the fact that there is a need for discussion in the topic itself and the industry standards.”


I will finish this off with one last quote from Kritiikkiblogi:

Supporting Marimekko is important. It won’t happen by staying silent and approving questionable methods for making art and creating. Support comes from harsh analysis and by presenting radical ideas.

Thrifty Finn- Wondering about the little bag from Barcelona that started this all.

P.S. I have another blog, Thrifty Finn’s Investigations & Opinions, where I wrote about various interesting topics. I know, I know. It’s ridiculously pompous name, but hey, being ridiculous and pompous are not reserved only for the men.

P.P.S. It’s hard to believe that paid professionals can’t create original content if us crafters do that shit constantly. For free.



Inspirations! Who? What? Where?

mika ihamuotila, marimekko, rovio

Image via MTV3.fi

I had my alarm clock on this morning so I could watch the Ihamuotila-interview on MTV3. I couldn’t get my eyes open. Thank heavens, there’s social media and I found abundant of links to the clip. The gist of the interview was that Marimekko and Louekari deny all the accusations:

Where’s the line between plagiarism and inspiration? “Looks like traced through baking paper”

In today’s Huomenta Suomi, the host Jesse Kamras showed Iltalehti‘s image to Marimekko CEO Mika Ihamuotila. Below is translated version of the original transcript found in here.

Kamras: This mystical Barcelona-bag and Maija Louekari’s Moments-print, yeah, there’s a picture in Iltalehti from 1960’s. By photographer Markus Lepo of Esplanadi. You could almost say it’s traced through baking paper so where is the line between plagiarism and inspiration?

Ihamuotila: It usually is, sometimes you move in a gray area. Sometimes it’s like a line in water, sometimes it’s hard to say. But usually it’s quite clear if it’s original inspiration, which is no where near any other work, so then you talk about a work of art that’s individual and original. -But this piece, you brought up right now, is it from today’s paper? It’s incomprehensible. That’s Maija Louekari’s one of a kind and original description of Esplanadi. And then some spanish bag manufacturer copied that and now Finnish press is claiming, based on a rumor that that (ours) is copied from that.

Kamras: But if you lay the Moments-print on top of the image, it’s one on one but is, is it inspiration?

Ihamuotila: For goodness sake, history of the world is filled with amazing but abstract works, based on views. And that is completely original and in my opinion very fabulous, that Maija Louekari’s original piece.

Well, I received a link here in comments and on Twitter, to this blogpost from 2011 and specifically to this picture:

esplanadi, markus lepo, marimekko, louekari

Image via mikasavela.tumblr.com

Yup. I’d say that’s definitely the original. The photo is by Markus Lepo and can be found in a book from 1960’s. Mika Savela says in his blog that the book’s name loosely translates as “Helsinki and it’s people”. He then proceeds to discuss about how it is cool that this image and the city life in it, “trickled down” through decades and found their way into various products:

mika savela, marimekko, hetkiä

Image via mikasavela.tumblr.com

You should go and read the full post HERE at mikasavela.tumblr.com. He writes in English.

So what does this mean to the copy claims? Well, it still could mean that the photo was made originally into a print by the spanish company. Marimekko’s defenders say that every designer have lots of inspiration pictures and after a while they blur together and so on. I say it’s entirely possible that a Spanish  designer bought copy of the book on some holiday to Finland. I have my share of vintage photo books from abroad for exactly this reason. They are cheap and they are cute.

It’s also possible that Marimekko did the print first. However, we have an iffy beginnings story. In yesterday’s statement we saw sketches of city views but we didn’t see the original concept board/images they were based on. In such, using vintage/retro tourist images for a basis IS a fun concept. However, now it’s too late for Marimekko to say that it was their original intention as they didn’t say so originally.

Marimekko’s defenders have jumped on the poor woman who brought up the similarities between the bag and the Marimekko-print. Questioning her background and whatnot. I’ve responded to them and I write it down here too: It doesn’t matter what her background is. She can be drug addict, disease-riddled prostitute but it doesn’t change the facts if the bag is older than Marimekko’s Hetkiä. Even if it turns out that Marimekko was copied, still, all she did was that she brought it up and even then, it’s good for Marimekko because then they can start legal proceedings against the Spanish company.

Now, all we have to do is found out the manufacturer of the bag. Then this will be solved. (Well, not for Marimekko. They have serious problems with their creative, business and communication processes).

Thrifty Finn- Loosing Twitter-followers faster than I can type Marimekko :D

P.S. I will be back to regular blogging soon ;)



There’s a Fifth One

marimekko, louekari, plagiaatti, Helsinki

Image via YLE.fi

Half an hour ago, YLE posted this.  A reader had contacted about a purse she had bought in Barcelona in 2001. Right, a print ‘Hetkiä’ by Maija Louekari from 2003.

I don’t know what to say anymore. Except that Maija won a design competition organized together with Marimekko and University of Art & Design Helsink (TAIK) with this print. And all the designers busted have graduated there. Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate the design education in Finland? Hmm?

Thrifty Finn- Wishing…wishing…wishing…That she could do something about this.

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Design Process a la Marimekko


Image via Marimekko

Last night, when the latest questionable print by Marimekko, surfaced, it didn’t take long for Marimekko to tweet a link to their site “to explain their process”.

Excited, I went to read the story as I’ve said many times that the story proves originality but what I found out was very interesting…They tell on their website that:

“In December 2011, a group of Marimekko’s design team members sat chatting. It turned out that all of them were fascinated by the same subject: the painterly beauty of weather. It was decided to go deeper into the subject, as they all felt that it was something that had to be done.

After the chat, a design brief was prepared and presented to designer Aino-Maija Metsola. She began to develop the theme in her mind, gathered photographs and samples of her earlier sketches. Everything seemed to fall into place.

The actual design process took several months. In her workspace, Aino-Maija made a large number of drawings and paintings, each more impressive than the last. The design team met at Marimekko at regular intervals to discuss the process.

After various phases, much pondering and shared insights, the end result was a bold collection of fabrics, tableware, home textiles and posters inspired by weather phenomena.”

Call me old-fashioned but I think, when a designer is not included in the design team, you can’t call yourself a design company. According to Marimekko’s creative director, Minna Kemell-Kutvola, this however, is a standard procedure with them. This to me tells me that they either don’t understand design and the reasons why people buy it OR they simply don’t regard art&design-professionals very high and therefore, they don’t regard their customers very high either.

Let’s call to Liberty, Orla Kiely, Borås Cotton, H&M and whatnot and tell them designers shouldn’t be in the design team and let’s hear them laugh their asses off.

Thrifty Finn- Appreciating design more than a certain “design” company we know

Marimekko. No.

marimekko, kuuskajaskari, copyright, plagiarism

Image via yle.fi

Just found about it on Twitter but Finnish artist, Heljä-Liukko Sundström accuses Marimekko for plagiarizing her work. On tonight’s Ajankohtainen Kakkonen, a current events program, she told that Marimekko’s print Kuuskajaskari, may be a copy of her piece Sääpäiväkirja.

I say it’s not a direct copy but the tones, the mood and the general layout has been taken from Sääpäiväkirja. AND the thing that makes the art what it is; the dark horizon. Showing and proving the forces of nature. (Original art’s name is Weather Diary). Here’s a comparison and first Marimekko’s design:

Marimekko, Kuuskajaskari, plagiarism, copyright

Image via muotoseikka.blogspot.fi

And Heljä’s original from 1980’s:

marimekko, kuuskajaskari, sääpäiväkirja, copyright, ceramics

Via antiikinvuoksi.fi

I groaned when I saw the tweet. I’m assuming the proper s***storm will hit tomorrow. The art director, Minna Kemell-Kutvonen, seems to be a level 5 idiot. She states: “We don’t understand Heljä Liukko-Sundströms allegations”. Oh, well. At least she constantly gives me things to write about.

Edited to add: Marimekko has named their entire collection Sääpäiväkirja (Weather diary). HERE you can see all the products.

Here are links to some of the news (in Finnish) regarding today’s scandal and feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

Helsingin Sanomat, Ilta-Sanomat, Iltalehti, Kaleva.fi, Turun Sanomat

Thrifty Finn- Speechless for once

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