Maija Isola

Maija Isola (born 15 March 1927 in Riihimäki, Finland, died 3 March 2001) was a leading Finnish designer of printed textiles. She also had a career as a visual artist.[1]


Life and career

The glowing colours and bold patterns in Marimekko owe much to Maija Isola's design and example. A roll of Unikko is second from the bottom of the fabric stand

After studying painting at the Helsinki Central School of Industrial Arts, Isola became principal textile designer for Marimekko.[2]

In 1964, Isola defied Marimekko founder Armi Ratia's ban on floral patterns, setting the style of the company by painting the famous Unikko (Poppy) pattern in bold pink, red and black on white;[3] the pattern has been in production ever since.[4]

In 1974, Isola designed the popular pattern Primavera, consisting of stylized Marigold flowers; this has since been printed in many different colours for tablecloths, plates and other items.[5]

From 1980 to 1987, Isola worked in Marimekko with her daughter, Kristina "who is still one of Marimekko's chief designers".[6]


According to FinnStyle, Isola was "undisputedly the most famous textile designer to have existed at Marimekko"[7], and she "created over 500 prints during her long and colorful employment."[7]

Ivar Ekman, writing in the New York Times, quotes Marianne Aav, director of the Helsinki Design Museum: "What we understand as the Marimekko style is very much based on what Maija Isola was doing".[8] Ekman comments "The range of prints that Isola produced for Marimekko is astounding", as the patterns span "minimalistic geometric", "toned-down naturalistic" and "explosion of colors".[8]

Marion Hume, writing in Time Magazine, explains that Isola "was able to mastermind an astonishing range, from the intricate and folkloric Ananas (1962)—which remains one of the most popular prints for the home market—to the radically simple, dramatically enlarged, asymmetrical Unikko poppy (1964), originally in red and in blue, which may be one of the most widely recognized prints on earth.". [9]

According to Tamsin Blanchard, writing in The Observer, "The designs of Maija Isola - one of the company's original and longest-standing designers - have stood the test of time."[10] Blanchard describes as "timeless" Isola's 1972 Wind design "with its feathery organic tree skeletons in silhouette", her 1957 Putinotko "spiky black-and-white print", her 1963 Melon and her 1956 Stones.[10]

Hannah Booth, writing in The Guardian, explains that Marimekko's founder, Armi Ratia, "recruited Maija Isola, the first and most important of many young female designers, to create original prints".[11] She describes Isola as "unconventional", leaving her daughter Kristina "to grow up with her grandmother so she could travel the world to find inspiration for her textiles".[11] Booth quotes Finnish novelist Kaari Utrio as saying Isola was "a dangerously original character"; she "belonged to a trailblazing generation" enabling young women to move freely into the arts.[11]

Lesley Jackson, in the aptly titled chapter Op, Pop, and Psychedelia in her textbook Twentieth Century Pattern Design, writes that "from Finland the exuberant all-conquering Marimekko burst on to the international scene" in the 1960s; she illustrates this with one pattern by Vuokko Nurmesniemi, and three by Isola – Lokki, Melooni, and inevitably Unikko.[12]

  • Of Lokki, Jackson writes "Isola revolutionized design with her simple, bold, flat patterns, printed on a dramatic scale. The design, whose title means 'seagull', evokes the lapping of waves and the flapping of birds' wings."[13]
  • Of the famous Unikko, Jackson explains "This huge, exploded poppy pattern embodies the unbridled design confidence of the mid-1960s, and presages the ebullience and sizzling colours of the flower power era."[13]

Hanna-Liisa Ylipoti notes that "The themes of many Marimekko designs are also very Finnish, portraying Finnish nature. For example, Maija Isola created her Luonto (nature) design [series] using actual plant specimens".[14]


Isola left Marimekko in 1987.[8] She worked on painting, not textiles, until her death in 2001.[8]

Legacy of Marimekko patterns

In 2011, Marimekko flew a hot-air balloon decorated with an enormous version of Unikko over Helsinki, showing that the pattern remains iconic nearly half a century later.[15] Marimekko's marketing policy is to reissue "classics from its fifty-year back catalogue, notably a large group of patterns from the 1950s and 1960s by Maija Isola."[6]


  • Maija Isola and Marimekko, Retrospective exhibition, Design Museum (Designmuseo), Helsinki, Finland. 24 May 2005 - 4 September 2005.[16]


  • Jackson, Lesley. Twentieth Century Pattern Design. Princeton Architectural Press, 2007. ISBN 978-1568987125
  • Aav, Marianne. Marimekko: Fabrics, Fashion, Architecture. Yale University Press, 2003. ISBN 978-0300101836


  1. ^ "Maija Isola". Marimekko. Retrieved 5 March 2010. 
  2. ^ "Maija Isola patterns for Marimekko". Design Finland. 31 August 2006. Retrieved 5 March 2010. 
  3. ^ "Marimekko Timeline". Timeline. Retrieved October 18, 2011. 
  4. ^ Kueber, Pam (October 17, 2010). "RetroRenovation: Marimekko Unikko". Marimekko Unikko by Maija Isola, 1964. Retro Renovation. Retrieved October 18, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Primavera". Primavera. Retrieved October 18, 2011. 
  6. ^ a b Jackson, 2007, page 200
  7. ^ a b "FinnStyle:Maija Isola". Finnish Designers: Maija Isola. FinnStyle. Retrieved October 18, 2011. 
  8. ^ a b c d Ekman, Ivar (August 23, 2005). "New York Times". Nostalgia for a modern Finnish designer. New York Times. Retrieved October 18, 2011. 
  9. ^ Hume, Marion (April 09, 2008). "Time Magazine". Luxury Source. Time Magazine U.S..,9171,1729405,00.html. Retrieved October 23, 2011. 
  10. ^ a b Blanchard, Tamsin (20 May 2001). "The Observer". Interiors:Marimekko:The Finnish Line. The Guardian. Retrieved October 18, 2011. 
  11. ^ a b c Booth, Hannah (5 September 2005). "The Guardian: Life & Style: Women". Flower power. The Guardian. Retrieved October 18, 2011. 
  12. ^ Jackson 2007, pages 136-137 Examples of Maija Isola's prints, including Unikko
  13. ^ a b Jackson 2007, page 136
  14. ^ Ylipoti, Hanna-Liisa (3 February 2011 (last updated)). "Research". Marimekko's Path to Success During the 1950s and 60s. FAST-FIN-1 (TRENAK1) Finnish Institutions Research Paper. Retrieved October 23, 2011. 
  15. ^ "Unikko hot-air balloon". Marimekko Unikko hot-air balloon flying above the silhouette of Helsinki. Marimekko. 22 June 2011. Retrieved October 18, 2011. 
  16. ^ Retrospective exhibition at Designmuseo
  17. ^ Exhibition Marimekko at Sem in Ljubljana
  18. ^ Exhibition at Minneapolis Institute of Arts
  19. ^ [ Exhibition at Design Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Maija Isola — (* 15. März 1927 in Riihimäki; † 3. März 2001) war eine finnische Designerin und Künstlerin. Leben Sie studierte von 1946 bis 1949 Malerei an der Hochschule für Kunst und Design in Helsinki. 1949 hat Isola erste Stoffentwürfe für die Firma… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Isola — ist der Name: einer 1912 in Düren gegründeten Firma, die Platinen herstellt; Isola Gruppe (von Isolierte Laminate) eines Strategiespiel für zwei Spieler; Isola (Spiel) eines Titularbistum der römisch katholischen Kirche; Isola (Titularbistum)… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Marimekko — Corporation Type Public (OMX: MMO1V) Industry Textiles and fashion …   Wikipedia

  • List of Finns — This is a list of people from Finland, i.e. of noted Finns: Actors *Ida Aalberg (1858 ndash; 1915) *Aino Ackte (1876 ndash; 1944) *Jouko Ahola *Olavi Ahonen *Irina Björklund *Liisa Evastina *Peter Franzén *George Gaynes *Gina Goldberg *Anna Leena …   Wikipedia

  • William Morris — For other people named William Morris, see William Morris (disambiguation). William Morris William Morris by George Frederic Watts, 1870 Born 24 March 18 …   Wikipedia

  • List of fashion designers — American* Carlota Alfaro * Pegah Anvarian * Max Azria * Laura Bennett * Bill Blass * Bijan * Dana Buchman * Lane Bryant * Patti Cappalli * Hattie Carnegie * Shawn Carter * Oleg Cassini * Liz Claiborne * Kenneth Cole * Sean Combs * Laura Dahl *… …   Wikipedia

  • Charles Voysey (architect) — Charles Francis Annesley Voysey Born 1857 Yorkshire, England Died 1941 Winchester, England Nationality English Awards RIBA Gold Medal, 1940 …   Wikipedia

  • Marianne Straub — was one of the leading designers of textiles in Britain during the 1940s, 50s and 60s. She was born in the village of Amriswil, Switzerland on 23 September 1909. Her father was a textile merchant so it was no surprise that she was soon attracted… …   Wikipedia

  • May Smith — For the British royal, see Lady May Abel Smith. May Anne Smith (1906–1988) was a painter, engraver, textile designer and textile printer. May Smith was born in Simla, India, in 1906. At that time Simla was the summer headquarters of British India …   Wikipedia

  • Mary White (textile designer) — For other people named Mary White, see Mary White. Mary White (born in Margate, Kent in 1930) trained as a textile designer and studied textile design at the Thanet School of Art and Crafts. She was one of the most iconic textile print designers… …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.