what’s black and white all over but read when you look at it?

Answer: An iPad in a Marimekko case

Ok Ok. When I was asked to edit the Nord blog it wasn’t because of my sense of humour. Clearly.

Nor, as might be obvious, was it for my understanding of fashion.

Recently I read somewhere that black and white patterns are “in” this season so I took this photograph of two shoulder bags and an iPad or tablet case from Marimekko. Then I saw in a newspaper that blue is the new black. That seems a bit odd to me, because I thought blue was blue and black was black - but it was in the Guardian - so it must be true. Then, shortly after that, I saw in a magazine that black is the new black. Now I really am confused.

new fabrics from Marimekko for this season

Several new fabrics have been produced by Marimekko for this Season. Two in particular seem to reflect the style of textiles of the 1940s and 1950s with tight overall botanical designs but here given stronger and bolder scale ... or given a modern twist ... which is, I think, the way some design magazines would put it. 

Tomaattitarha, designed by Asao Kodama, has a white background with beautiful marked weave pattern in 45% linen and 55% cotton printed with a design of leaves and fruit in strong colours.

Kranssi, designed by Masaru Suzuki, is a heavy-weight cotton with a more stylised design of a flower vine or trailing stem in more subdued tones of grey, yellow and blue.

printed linens from Marimekko

Korona by Jenni Tuominen - 100% linen displayed in the window at Nord

Marimekko are renowned for their printed cottons but every year, with each new collection, they produce a number of fabrics in pure linen or in a cotton/linen blend. 

Marimekko have occasionally, designed outfits in linen including the Paali dress by Marja Suna in 1994 and there was even a man’s suit, the PT 7 by Pekka Talvensaari that came out in 1986. 

The designs for their linen fabrics tend to be in softer, in more muted colours, and are often inspired by nature, particularly foliage. Heinä, a simple repeat design of grasses by Maija and Kristina Isola is a classic that is still in the collection. Korona by Jenni Tuominen, in contrast, is a soft geometric design in almost ice-cream colours that evokes smaller but as closely-packed designs of the late 1950s.

Heina by Maija and Kristina Isola

This Spring Marimekko introduced Kivitarha, a debut design by Teija Puranen, and Tunturipöllö, both new designs in 100% linen and for this Autumn Harmaja and Kuuskajaskari - one of the designs in the new Sääpäiväkirja Collection.

Tunturipöllö - Marimekko fabrics are identified on the selvedge with the name of the designer - here Sawako Ura - and the date of the design

new for the Autumn from Marimekko ...

For this Autumn, the new range of fabrics and tablewares from Marimekko is called the Sääpäiväkirja or Weather Diary Collection and was inspired by “observing seasonal weather patterns as well as by the exuberant glow of colours in autumnal gardens.”

Tableware, in the familiar Oiva range, has been included in the new season Sääpäiväkirja designs, with plates, mugs and cups in amazing watery blues or strong autumnal yellows and the pitcher has a band of design in sharp, deep greens and blacks with an image of “windblown trees, rustling reeds, glowing golden grasses, storm-soaked rocks, and misty archipelago mornings.”

New fabrics include Jussaro, 100% cotton with a design inspired by rolling storm clouds, and Kuuskajaskari, 100% linen with an amazing continuous pattern, that runs along the length of the fabric rather than across the width, with an impression of grasslands under a heavy sky.

My descriptions may sound like a bad travel advert but the pieces themselves are stunning and once again Marimekko has come up with something very new - a short break from their hallmark designs with strong abstract or geometric patterns - and, as always, by taking the patterns across a range of fabrics and tableware, they make it possible for you to give a table setting or a room a complete and co-ordinated make over with a very striking effect.

Marimekko, Artek and Iittala in Helsinki

Perhaps the best place to start to explore design in Helsinki is from Esplanadi. This is a long park or garden running east to west that is lined with shops and hotels. The Cathedral and main government buildings are close but with the harbour, where the main Baltic ferries arrive, at the east end of Esplanadi and with the central railway station (designed by Eliel Saarinen) just three blocks to the north, this is often one of the first places visitors to the city find.

On the north side, at Pohjoisesplanadi 33, is the flagship store of Marimekko. This is on a large corner site, so it has plenty of window display, and the shop is set out over two floors. The displays of textiles and clothing inside the shop are amazing and when you need to rest then Marimekko have their own cafe - Marikahvila - at the back of the store which opens out onto the circular atrium of a large up-market shopping arcade.

On the south side of the gardens, immediately opposite Marimekko is the flag-ship store for Artek at Eteläesplanadi 18. If you can’t make it from one store to the other without a rest then there is an open-air cafe in the middle of the gardens between them. 

Just to the east of Marimekko is the Iittala store and opposite that, to the east of Artek is, appropriately, the Savoy Hotel with the restaurant after which Alvar Aalto named the Savoy Vase . The vase is still made by Iittala and much of the interior of the hotel designed by Aalto survives.