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peep the new uniqlo x marimekko collection

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We also sat down for a chinwag with Minna Kemell-Kutvonen, Marimekko’s design director for prints and homewares.

Hear ye, hear ye! There's something exciting happening in fashion land, and the news might just make you break out into a happy jig. Yep, we’re talking about a new UNIQLO x Marimekko range, the fourth in a series of ace collaborations between the Japanese lifestyle brand and Finnish design house. The collection hits stores on December 10th, with plenty of eye-catching Marimekko prints to choose from. You’ll find cheery designs splashed across loungey dresses, shirts and pants, as well as some more wintery turtlenecks and super-cool puffer jacks, all of which come in both women's and children's sizes.

To hear a bit more about how it all came together, we sat down for a chinwag with Minna Kemell-Kutvonen, Marimekko’s director of home products and print design. Minna's been working at Marimekko for nearly three decades (what a dream!) and has the rather enviable job of thinking about homewares and prints all day.

Hi Minna! Tell us a bit about what you do at Marimekko on a daily basis. Hi! I’m the design director for home and print design at Marimekko. I work on creating our collections and building the brand's future in close collaboration with our designers, product development and marketing teams (amongst others). I don’t actually design prints myself, but my job is to lead the print-design team. 

You’ve been at Marimekko for many years. How did you get to where you are today? I’ve been at Marimekko for 28 years already. I decided I wanted to work here as a child! I graduated from Taideteollinen Korkeakoulu, the University of Art and Design Helsinki (now called Aalto University), with a master’s degree in fashion and clothing design. Before my current position, I worked in several different departments at Marimekko. 
 
I’ve always approached clothing from an architectural point of view. People and their choices of attire are a big part of spaces and interiors in my opinion, and I guess this way of thinking has eventually led me to be responsible for Marimekko’s pattern design and home collections. 

What should a good print do? A good print is a strong, stand-alone entity in itself, and appeals to people widely. 

Do you have any advice for young designers looking to get into your field? There is no one formula, but I would advise them to stay very well informed about what is happening in the creative and visual fields, and to keep a close eye on what the youth is doing.

What was the inspiration for the new UNIQLO x Marimekko range? The collection is themed Joyful Together and it was inspired by northern winter life and meaningful togetherness. For this holiday capsule, we chose archive prints by Maija Isola and Annika Rimala (both iconic Marimekko print designers) that would best capture the season’s theme.

How did the collaborative process work with UNIQLO? This is the fourth time we’ve collaborated with UNIQLO, so the process is already quite established. We always start with the overall mood of the season, and try to find the prints that would best portray the message we want to send. This dialogue and highly collaborative process is very important to make sure that the prints communicate our collection theme in a way that is widely understood across different cultures. 

What do you love about teaming up with UNIQLO? There is beauty in working together across cultures on something as universal as design – it’s very enriching. I always say that design is a universal language. 

What’s your favourite print from the collection? This is a difficult question – there are many! If I had to mention only one, I would go for Maija Isola’s Kivet (stones). That pattern captures a strong organic shape that manages to maintain its intrigue from one decade to the next.