reflecting on good design – specifically, the good design that came out of Finland decades ago. under the Marimekko and Arabia labels.
I used a couple of Arabia bowls this week, for pies. They are bowls that could be used (and were) for soup, souffle, dips. I haven’t used them for some years, partly because I had used them so often when I first acquired them in the 1970s (a gift from my mother) that I sometimes put them away and forget about them. Five of the six remain: the rim of one chipped, and it is now the cat’s drinking bowl.
Look at the rim: just big enough for pastry for a pie, just big enough to create a kind of border. The style – that heavy earthenware – went out of fashion for a while, but it’s nearly back. And apart from the design that is so usefully attractive, there’s something nice about using tableware that’s been part of my life for so long.
Marimekko is going through a great revival, and there is an exhibition at the Bendigo Art Gallery that shouldn’t be missed. I had the experience of going to Bendigo one hot weekend recently, not realising the exhibition was on. It was hot, so I had packed a summer dress I am fond of – a Marimekko dress, in fact. I wore it to the exhibition, where a guide directed me to the room where my dress (or a precursor) was displayed. The pattern dated from 1959; the dress I was wearing was first made in 1960.
What struck me, going through the exhibition, is that the early philosophy, to create clothes that every woman could wear, endured. The founder was a woman, so were the early designers, and the clothes were so different from the designs by men in those years – and now, if you think of it. Marimekko (which means something like ‘Mary’s dress’) was practical, durable, imaginative, attractive, and bold. The one thing it wasn’t was ‘feminine’ – a world away from post-war French fashion. Some of the Marimekko designs are so vivid and alive they could be plucked from their display cases and worn. Like my dress. http://www.bendigoartgallery.com.au/Exhibitions/