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).
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…
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:
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
- Marimekko. Freelancer’s Nightmare.
- Marimekko. Conclusions.
- Inspirations! Who? What? Where?
- Questions to Mika Ihamuotila
- Marimekko Released a Statement
- There’s a Fifth One
- The Weather Diary
- Marimekko. Busted.
- Design Process a la Marimekko
- Marimekko. No.
- Marimekko. Updated.
- Marimekko. Despicable.
- Marimekko. Again.
- Marimekko & Mika Ihamuotila
- Marimekko. Breaking News.
- Marimekko. Unbelievable.
- Marimekko. Interesting Commentaries.
- Marimekko. Aroung The World.
- Marimekko. Damage Control.
- Fabric Friday: Kristina Isola Prints Through The Years
- 557 780 Good Reasons
- Marimekko. Copyrighted vol.2
- Marimekko. Copyrighted.