Pattern Play: Marimekko Collaborates with Artist for Textile Month

For the special installation, artist Sarah Zapata married Marimekko prints with traditional Peruvian craft techniques.

Images Courtesy Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Marimekko

To celebrate New York Textile Month, Marimekko, the well-known Finnish home furnishings, textiles and fashion company, decided to collaborate with Museum of Arts and Design artist-in-residence Sarah Zapata on a window installation that would allow the artist to marry Marimekko prints with traditional craft techniques.

For the installation, Zapata sought to create a unique piece featuring rug canvas and swatches of Marimekko fabric. She first began working with rug canvas in 2015, taking inspiration from arpilleras, which are hand-sewn three-dimensional pictures popular in Peru.

As Zapata describes it, “American hooked rugs and arpilleras are both traditionally worked on burlap, a porous, sturdy fabric. I chose the rug canvas because it is related to burlap but more structural. I wanted a material that had the drape of a textile for the floor rugs and wall panels, but with the stiffness necessary to make a dimensional object. The installation for New York Textile Month gave me the opportunity to explore this work not only sculpturally, but narratively, by creating an environment. One of the main functions of arpilleras was narrative, and it was exciting to draw that element into this installation.“

In the piece, Zapata easily incorporated not only traditional Peruvian colors and textures, but the modern look of Marimekko fabrics as well. “The partnership with Marimekko was a natural fit. I’m very inspired by overly feminine, bombastic, South American colors, and the bright, painterly Finnish quality of their textiles related well to my aesthetic sensibility. They have such a strong tradition of working with women and recognizing the importance of the human hand in the screenprinting process. We both have a great interest in history and working within the medium of textiles in unexpected ways, without compromising the materials’ integrity,” she notes.

Marimekko’s long history of making colorful hand-printed fabrics is highlighted by Petri Juslin, the company’s artwork studio manager. Juslin notes that mistakes are often fashioned into the textiles.

“Our collections are puzzles which create a coherent entity in which prints, colors, and silhouettes complement each other.  When you include handcrafted designs with the printmaking process, it gives the piece those human imperfections that make the textile interesting to look at and unique all its own. It is this human element that draws you in; it is the art of it all.”

Artist Sarah Zapata attends as Marimekko and Museum of Arts and Design celebrate New York Textile Month at Marimekko New York on September 19, 2016 in New York City.

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