Forest For The Trees

Maria Primachenko’s Original (in part) “Rat on a Journey”

It has come to light this past week that internationally recognised Finnish home wares and textile house Marimekko, has allegedly pilfered a print design from a Unkraninian folk artist, Maria Primachenko.  Although Marimekko as a company holds the commercial license for their print designs, their freelance designers are essentially responsible for what they create. In this case long time Marimekko freelancer and daughter of an original illustrator at the brand, Kristina Isola, is the designer in question.

The only difference in the two artworks appears to be that the newer of the two is without the woodland character giving the work the title “Rat on a Journey”. Completed in 1963, Primachenko’s gouache painting is now housed in the Ukrainian Folk Decorative Art Museum in Kiev and featured in a book along a similar theme.

Isola’s version, sans rats, developed in 2007 for Marimekko now adorns the Finnair long-haul Airbus 330 in an ongoing collaboration between the carrier and design house. Although now shown in blues rather than the original greens, there is no mistake for we all can see the forest for the trees. Marimekko is rightly so in “…complete shock and profound disappointment” (sic), however the airline as yet has made no comment, nor have the changed any of the information about the design on their website.

It will be interesting to learn of any developments about this as the subject of copyright and who can use what and when is of constant concern to designers of any magnitude. Simply though it all boils down to trying to stay as true to yourself and your own creative endeavours and taking great care not only with safe guarding your own work but doing the proper research when taking inspiration.

Not to put a downer on an inspired weekend though, go get out there,  produce stuff and love it!

Kristina Isola’s version for Marimekko “Forest Dwellers” 2007

Finnair Airbus 330 with the design in question

Another Finnair aeroplane showing an iconic Marimekko design

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