An interview with Sami Ruotsalainen, Senior Designer, Marimekko

Grace Smith speaks with Sami Ruotsalainen, Senior Designer for Finnish design brand Marimekko.

How has Finnish culture influenced Marimekko design?

Marimekko’s design philosophy has always founded to the belief that good design shall be a functional part of everyday life and last a long time, both from quality as well as aesthetic points of view. This timelessness and functionality is very Finnish to me. Also Finland’s geographical location between East and West can be seen in Marimekko’s design language: the simplicity, clean and graphic language stems from our Scandinavian influence, while the rich, ornamental shapes and bold colours represent our Slavic influence. Since the very beginning our mission has been to empower people to be happy as they are and bring joy to their everyday lives through our bold prints and colours.

What is it about Helsinki that makes it a global design capital?

From my point of view I think it’s how we Finns do see design. For us, design items are part of our daily lives. I think we almost take those for granted as we have grown up being surrounded with design items like in schools, museums and even hospitals. As we Finns are very practical people we want to be surrounded by things that are functional and will last. We also have high-level design education in Finland, which I see as a great advance. For example, the Aalto University in Helsinki is doing a great job with educating the future design masters.

Which Finnish design trends should we be looking out for in the coming months?

One trend we see in Finland at the moment is that the young have noticed the value of old Finnish design both in garments and home items and have started to decorate their homes with those and collect vintage pieces to their wardrobe. I’m really happy to see this as vintage furniture is one of my great passions! Another tip would be to follow the young ready-to-wear designers who are graduating from Aalto University in Helsinki; I’m sure we will hear about them in the near future.

Jokapoika shirt

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Finland latitude gives it four distinct seasons, marked not only by changes in weather but also by how many hours of sun they have a day.  In summer daylight can last as long as 20 hours, while even in southern Finland winter days sometime only last six hours.  Winters are also cold and snowy, lasting from November to April in the northern regions of the country, while further south snow begins to appear in December.  Depending on what a traveller wants to experience in Finland different times of year may appeal, but summer gives the best chance to see more of Finland in the daylight.
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