Tag Archives: Finland

Marimekko. Between The Last News & Today.

Unikko 50 years, Marimekko, design

Image via marimekko.fi

Here we are. Hopefully at the end of this Marimekko-saga. Year 2013 was rough for the company. It’s reputation was in the crapper and they didn’t seem be to able to do anything right. So what has Marimekko done to get things fixed?

On September 30th last year they announced that Marimekko will no longer to collaborate with Kristina Isola. However, in the same breath they continued that her daughter Emma Isola WILL stay at the company. As one commenter on the Helsingin Sanomat-article said:

“Seems like a fixed deal. Mother ‘quit’s but daughter continues. How does it differ from before?”

Then another one builds on the work of Kritiikkiblogi, who made a case of nepotism in Finnish art & design education (I’m translating some Finnish expressions here and quite badly):

“Safety net jobs for the whole family. It’s just the way of the country and about the good sister-network. Hundreds of design professionals are trained in the adult daycare centers, and the few job opportunities go like this…I thought that the Helsinki University of Art & Design/Aalto Yliopisto had the market on nepotism (ex-dean and his children’s safety net jobs, the managerial positions and companies started within the university) but apparently not.”

Ow. The comments on various websites and other news articles played the same tune. I studied in Holland were there are frequently open design jobs but in Finland, they are few and far between. Not to mention, the problems with Finnish art school application system. In Finland there is emphasis on drawing skills and when you apply, you have to make three artworks. One with pencil, one with watercolour and one with whatever. Subjects change but the techniques… Never. Getting in depends on one very specific skill that doesn’t tell anything about person’s overall artistic skills and visions. Kritiikkiblogi wrote extensively about this system HERE (in Finnish).

Marimekko, business, art, design, layoffs, market, sale

Image via taloussanomat.fi

Then came some good news…In January, Marimekko published the news that they would be collaborating with Banana Republic. The collection will have 25 pieces and Marimekko told that it will significantly increase their licensing income. But that didn’t stop these news…

In February, Marimekko announced layoffs. There was a mini scandal when Mika Ihamuotila tweeted (and later deleted) a picture from a meeting with a text about nice textiles etc. and it turned out it was from the meeting they decided about the layoffs. For some weird reason, people thought it was tad tacky ;) They made the announcement at the same time with the news of opening of another 15-25 stores around Asia and North America. The only department safe from the layoffs is the Helsinki fabric printery. Which is positive as they seem to want to keep on at least some of their skilled workers.

And now to the BIG news…

Minna Kemell-Kutvonen, Marimekko, creative director, art, design

Minna Kemell-Kutvonen, image via yle.fi

In February, Marimekko made another announcement. They were going to move Minna Kemell-Kutvonen away from the Creative Director position and she will now be the Head of Pattern Design (well, we all know how well that worked before…) Then they launched a search for new Creative Director and today the news broke that the new CD will be Anna Teurnell from H&M!  She is the design director at the women’s fashion brand & Other Stories, which is owned by H&M.

This is all kinds of exciting, Anna Teurnell was part of the team that created Marimekko for H&M-collection few years back and I think she will bring the much needed sex appeal into the designs. Not that large print muumuu’s aren’t sexy but…They really aren’t. I have my doubts though. There’s a little sentence in the press release that makes me think that this change isn’t really going to change the corporate culture and subsequently the design process:

“Anna Teurnell’s artistic vision, internation experience and Nordic background are a great combination to help us to meet our high ambitions. I am also pleased that Minna Kemell-Kutvonen will now be concentrating on further strengthening our core competence, print design.”

So they get a new Creative Director (in fact they used the words Marc, Jacobs and visionary in their search) who is supposed to bring in all these new ideas in BUT you still separate your “core competence” from these new ideas. Marimekko potentially ties up Anna’s hands before she has even begun working there. And has Minna Kemell-Kutvonen showed any skill regarding print & pattern management before? Nothing in this entire story has shown any regard for other people’s talent either from her part. But we’ll see. Anna Teurnell will begin working there in July, so we won’t see her handiwork until 2015. If it’s any good as this sneak peek from the Banana Republic-collection, we are in for a treat:

banana republic, marimekko, fashion, collection, polkadot, skirt

Image via @MikaIhamuotila, Twitter

See! No muumuus anywhere! I hope I don’t have to add anything to this story ever again and the next story about Marimekko will be about how I want to buy something from them or they have done something exciting design-wise. Fingers crossed.

Thrifty Finn- Feeling like she has given everything she has to this story

Related reading:

Marimekko. Freelancer’s Nightmare.

marimekko, home, decor, Finland

Image via marimekko.fi

Last time I wrote about Marimekko, was in September with this post where I summed up the copy scandal year. How I wish it would have stopped there but less than a month later a new story broke out. This time about a clothing pattern. Helsingin Sanomat broke the news:

Marimekko, Pellervo, freelancer, ethics, copyright

Image via iltasanomat.fi

Three years ago, designer Marjut Rahkola approached Marimekko with her children’s wear ideas and was promptly signed on as a freelance designer. In her contract was stated that she would get royalties from every item sold (that she had designed). The general Terms of Contract (?) of Marimekko states that designs can only be changed/modified together with the designer. The changes wouldn’t affect the royalties paid. Everything was now on black and white and Rahkola showed them openly all of her designs. Production went ahead and the first collection was out 2012.

pellervo, pattern, technical drawing

Image via hs.fi

 

Then 2013, Rahkola began studying at Helsinki Design School  and didn’t visit Marimekko HQ that often. She had a verbal agreement that her designs would be co-ordinated in-house and then decided how they would proceed with them. When she went to visit HQ in June, she found out that Marimekko had brought back one of her earlier designs but this time it wasn’t her name on them. She sent an e-mail to the creative director Minna Kemell-Kutvonen about it and she responded via lawyer:

“No copying has been done, because first of all, it is not the same Pellervo-pant. It is brand new, separate product.”

The differentiation was further explained:

“The new product differs from Pellervo-pant by its scale and new pattern form and thus being much fitter and narrower where as Pellervo-pant was charmingly slouchy.”

If you go back up and look at the technical drawing, how much difference you see? Technical drawing for clothes are the blueprints. What you see is what you get. True, this isn’t a copy case but an ethics and a contract breach case. And that’s what the designer thinks too:

“You can easily play this down. That it doesn’t take a long time to come up with this. But that’s not the point. I was the one who brought it as new to Marimekko. This is just the way they try to avoid royalty payments to the original designer. Diaper pants play a significant role in the current collection. Also, this tells a lot how designers are appreciated.”

Pellervo-pants aren’t the first and only diaper pants ever. But anyone who ever has made a clothing pattern from scratch knows that getting a good fit takes time. Rahkola herself said that she made 20 prototypes. Marimekko built on that work and probably would never had a diaper pant in their collection if it weren’t for Rahkola. Copyright laws weren’t broken but this clearly was done with the intent to stop paying the designer.

As per usual, Marimekko continued with their confusing statements. When Marimekko’s Communication Manager (my translation of the Finnish title) Merja Paulamäki was asked by iltasanomat.fi about this, she said (and she used pretty clever wording in Finnish…):

“Marimekko has had children’s wear in their collections for decades. Items for the diaper wearing ages have been in our collections also for decades. So as a product, they are not new.”

This is what pisses me off. She tries to imply that the designer claims that she was the one who brought the whole concept of children’s wear to Marimekko, by replacing the word diaper pants with diaper wearing ages, meaning toddlers of course. Then she continued:

“They are completely different product by their scale and fit.”

When she was confronted with the technical drawings, she responded with:

“I don’t know how to comment. I only know our products, not these drawings.”

So first you knew enough to say that the designer is wrong and then suddenly you don’t know anything? Maybe it’s time have an MRI. Also, Marimekko had the option to make a one-time payment to the designer but they chose the royalty-route. Instead of handling it like a business partner you are supposed to be able to trust, they decided, scamming the designer or in this case the correct word is developer, would make better financial sense.

This news broke out last October but as I was in Paris without a computer, I couldn’t write about it then. There have been a lot of changes within Marimekko-company followed by these scandals and my next post is about them.

Thrifty Finn- Your trusty Marimekko reporter

 

 

 

Sweet Mother of 90s

90s, floral, flowers, fashion, style, music

Original image via calibakers.com

I’m continuing with some more news about Finnish popular culture…The other week, Finnish Broadcasting Company asked around in social media for people’s favourite 90′s songs. Today they announced the list, with some comments. My favourite:

When I heard this song for the first time at the youth association disco, it blew this heavy rocker’s mind. You wanted to dance even if you didn’t have the skill and knew that heavy rocker wasn’t supposed to like electronic music.

The song he was talking about was of course Prodigy’s No Good:

What was interesting that Spice Girls, Oasis or Blur didn’t make the list. The reason was that the votes for them went to several different songs. Personally I think that ‘Who Do You Think You Are’ should have been there but maybe next time they can make a TOP 10 90s girl/boyband-song list. Backstreet Boys’ ‘Everybody’ being the number 1 of course. Anyhoo, the TOP 10 90s songs (with links to respective videos) according to Finnish people are:

  1. Nirvana: Smells Like Teen Spirit
  2. Deee-Lite: Groove Is In The Heart
  3. The Cranberries: Zombie
  4. Guns’N’Roses: November Rain
  5. Haddaway: What Is Love
  6. Queen: Show Must Go On
  7. Culture Beat: Mr. Vain
  8. Suede: Trash
  9. The Prodigy: No Good (Start The Dance)
  10. The Garbage: I’m Only Happy When It Rains

Another personal note. Although I do love Deee-Lite’s ‘Groove Is In The Heart’, I think ‘Good Beat’ is way better. I didn’t discover until last summer and it has become my most played and loved song. Oh and Miss Kier has an amazing Tumblr, you should check it out.

Thrifty Finn- Wishing that she could pull of a bodysuit like that.

You’ve Got Homo Mail!

EDITED TO ADD PT.2! This is NOT an April’s Fool. This really IS happening.

The Finnish post office get a lot of bad rep for their overpricing and generally dismal service but sometimes they DO get things right. Finnish postage stamps are very collectible and today they announced a new stamp set that goes where no postal service have never gone before…

tom of finland, stamp, finland, gay, rights, equality

Image via iltasanomat.fi

Tom of Finland! For those who don’t know, Tom of Finland, was an artist who specialized in homo erotic fetish art. He is regarded as one of the most well-known Finnish artists outside Finland. He created over 3500 drawings during his career and there is even a foundation to preserve his legacy.

tom of finland, gay, equality, stamp, art

Image via iltasanomat.fi

The stamp was designed by Timo Berry & Susanna Luoto and is released in September to coincide with the opening of an exhibition “Salaisuuksin suljettu- Kirjeiden Tom of Finland”/” Tom of Finland- in letters” at the postal museum in Tampere. The original announcement is HERE, in Finnish now in English. Anyone else see the propaganda possibilities in Postcrossing?

-Thrifty Finn- Thinking this set is all kinds of awesome-

P.S. There is even a movie in the works.

EDITED TO ADD: Finnish Posti has an English-language store where you can buy 1st Day covers and stamp sets. You can find it HERE. There will be 200 000 sets for sale.

Finnish blogger Hulivilipoika, who writes about LGBT-issues, wrote about Tom of Finland-book. In Finnish, though you might get lucky with Google Translator.

What is happening to this world? First anti-stamp blogpost HERE. In Finnish.

EDITED TO ADD pt.3: Here are some news about it in English: Huffington Post, Jezebel, Dazed Digital, Slate

What’s Your Name Again?

visit, finland, name generator

The Official Travel Site of Finland- VisitFinland.com has created a name generator for you finnophiles out there. Just type in your name and you can get your very own Finnish name! Oddly, a lot of Finns have found this very entertaining as per witnessed by my Twitter-feed and being easily influenced, I played with it too. First I tried it with my name and got:

finnish, name generator, visit finland, travel

Marja Sammalkorpi. Berry Mossy Wilderness. The English version would be fantastic post-apocalyptic world name. With a name like that I’d be a specialist of berries and forest survival! Over-active imagination much?

Then I started wondering what would the generator offer with an English name? I tried with the only name I could remember at the spot; Margaret Thatcher. Don’t laugh.

name generator, visit finland, fun, twitter

I can see the resemblance. Go and have fun yourself and let me know what your Finnish name is. The generator can be found HERE.

-Thrifty Finn-