Marimekko flies Finnair

After a particularly enjoyable flight between Helsinki and Hong Kong, Wolf had a chat to the design team behind the Marimekko emblazoned Finnair aircraft. Take a look behind the design process uniting two of Finland's biggest exports. 

What was the process of designing the aircraft tail print? 
We painted one of Finnair´s long haul planes, an Airbus 340 with Marimekko’s iconic Unikko (poppy) pattern in October 2012. When choosing the pattern, many things need to be considered, such as
- how visible is the print from far away: people look at the aircraft typically from quite far away, so the print needs to be large enough. 
- the colour and the design need to fit with our brand image:
the dark blue Unikko flower print was a good match for our blue and white colours.
- the pattern needs to be feasible from technical point of view: an aircraft is rounded object, which needs to be taken into account. Also, the more complicated the pattern, the more difficult and time-consuming it is technically to paint, and naturally it is in the interest of an airline to get the aircraft flying as soon as possible. 


The crockery avaliable for passengers is also Marimekko designed, what were the considerations for designing tableware for air-service?
A team of Finnair professionals worked closely together with Marimekko designer Sami Ruotsalainen when he designed the tableware and textiles. The items were designed specifically for aircraft use, so we paid close attention to their suitability to the aircraft environment. We want to provide our customers with timeless yet modern design products, that enhance the customer experience. And when you bring products to an aircraft, weight is naturally always a consideration, we do not want to add unnecessary weight as that would add fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. The products need to be able to be stored in an aircraft, and tableware and textiles need to fit with our customer service process.


Finnair and Marimekko are two of the most recognisable symbols of Finland internationally, how did the collaboration come about and how important is it for cross-promotion between the two brands?
As an iconic Finnish design house, Marimekko was a natural choice for us, when we wanted to enhance our customer experience  by bringing design items to our aircraft. For Finnair, this collaboration is about enhancing our customer experience. We believe good design can make life better, and wanted to delight our customers with design tableware and textiles. Our customer service promise is Peace of Mind – we want our customers to feel relaxed and at home in our aircraft. Dining and rest are important parts of the customer experience, and these products enhance those part of the customer’s journey.


What have been the reaction of fans to the Finnair design? 
Responses have been very positive. Finnair´s customer service promise is Peace of Mind – customers should feel that they can relax and trust that everything has been taken care of for them. We have a selection of Marimekko designs in in-flight sales and in Finnair Plus Shop – naturally the selection in in-flight sales comprises of lighter products such as Marimekko aprons, umbrellas and other smaller items such as bags, and in Finnair Plus shop we have Marimekko tableware and glassware so that customers have the possibility to purchase Marimekko for Finnair items also for themselves.


Marimekko has been involved with some notable collaborations recently- namely with Aesop skincare sauna duet which will feature in Mr. Wolf Edition Two. How important are collaborations for the Marimekko brand?
Marimekko is a very inclusive brand. We want to inspire people with our colours, patterns, and art of print making to be bold and creative, and to express themselves. Hence, exciting and sometimes even unexpected partnerships are very natural for us. We believe in togetherness and in enriching collaboration, and through interesting partnerships the Marimekko prints and colours can inspire an even wider audience.

In addition to the collaborations with Finnair and Aesop, some other great brand partnerships we have done include the ongoing Converse hearts Marimekko collection and H&M's Tribute to Marimekko collection in 2008. Furthermore, just a couple of weeks ago we announced that Marimekko is teaming up with Banana Republic for a summer 2014 capsule collection.

Finnair Lounge 

In the last few years Marimekko has undertaken a staggering international expansion, adorning the tail wing of an international airline is almost symbolic of its great success in international markets. How has the Marimekko brand adapted to such a global expansion and what more is planned for the future?
Our vision in Marimekko is to be the world’s most admired pattern designer and one of the most fascinating design brands and we’re all the time striving towards this. Internationalisation has been part of Marimekko’s history for a long time: already in the 60’s we were very well-known for example in the US. We have always believed that our timeless and functional design speaks to people all around the world and therefore internationalisation has not really changed the core of our design. But of course, some of the regional requirements have to be considered when designing for example clothes.

Marimekko has also a lot in store for the future. We have three key market areas, Northern Europe, North America and the Asia-Pacific area, and are focusing our expansion to these areas. In 2013 the main thrust in our expansion is on opening retailer-owned Marimekko stores and shop-in-shops. We’re all the time looking for new ways of spreading our design philosophy whether it is by opening stores or by new and interesting design collaborations.