Aino-Maija’s Vatruska fabric print for Marimekko
Postcards designed for Lagom UK
We’re super duper excited to get in touch with Finnish illustrator/designer – Aino-Maija Mestola for our latest dröm sessions! Many of you might find her work and illustrations familiar probably because you’ve seen them before when you set foot in Marimekko stores! Aino-Maija has got to be amongst our favourite illustrators/designers working with Marimekko! We personally have her Pikku Huhuli tote bag and the Vatruska fabric which we made into a skirt.
We typically identify Aino-Maija with her bright and colourful works, but in this dröm sessions, we go a bit deeper and beyond just her colour and bright illustrations and explore more of what makes Aino-Maija who she is today as a creative individual.
Matkoilla / 2014 Calendar for Marimekko
Hello there Aino-Maija! First up, we’d like to know how did illustration/design became a part of who you are, what started your passion?
I think it has always been a part of me, I have been drawing quite passionately ever since I can remember. That is also what my parents tell me. I have no idea how it started. I just kept drawing and in the end it became a profession.
Matkoilla / Stationery for Marimekko
Did you grow up living in the city area of Finland, or the countryside? Has your childhood/nature impacted or inspired you in any way as a designer now?
I was born in the capital Helsinki but my family moved to the countryside when I was five years old. I loved living there as a child, our home was surrounded by forest and fields and I spent a lot of time playing outdoors with my sisters and swimming in the river. I’m sure the surroundings of my childhood have impacted my work as nature is very often present in my designs and illustrations.
Photos: Aino-Maija Metsola
Do you think it makes a lot of difference being a designer who grows up/lives amongst the nature, vs one who grows up/lives in the city? Do you think that this difference greatly reflects in the designer’s work? If given a choice, which would you prefer (city/nature)?
I think the living environment may often reflect in a designer’s work in many ways but I wouldn’t say a person who grew up in the city can’t understand nature. All our personal experiences and interests affect in what kind of people and designers we turn out to be.
If I would have to choose between a big city and countryside I would probably choose countryside. But now I live in a place that has a lot of good aspects of both which is nice. I also really like many of the things that a city has to offer.
Aino-Maija’s Kesätori fabric print for Marimekko
Aino-Maija’s Jurmo fabric print for Marimekko
Tableware designed by Aino-Maija for Marimekko’s Weather Diary Collection.
For us to be growing up & living in a cosmopolitan country like Singapore, its mostly a concrete jungle filled with mainly tall buildings, fast & noisy traffic, we really really enjoyed your body of work under the Sääpäiväkirja (Weather Diary) Collection for Marimekko! They really transported us to a different realm – one that is of warm sunbeams against our cheeks and crazy sea waves at our feet, we really love how you interpreted nature/weather into your work – they’re so poetic and graphical! Nature is just something that we as Singaporeans just don’t get enough of! Could you share with us the inspiration/process behind it? Did you spend days being in front of the great ocean, observing the weather changes and taking it all in?
The sea is just behind my window, so the theme for this series was very natural for me. I walk daily by the sea shores and I sail in the summertime. And I always observe what I see, the different skies, colours of the sea, the details in the nature. So for the most part I already had it all in me when I started working on the designs. I started remembering things I had seen and made piles of paintings of which I and the people of Marimekko chose the ones that we would use in the Weather Diary collection.
Final product of tableware designed by Aino-Maija for Marimekko’s Weather Diary Collection.
I remember being very instinctively drawn to your style of illustration when I set foot in Marimekko (despite the works of many other designers represented there), your illustrations/prints usually grab my attention first. You seem to have quite a diverse style – From the bright, bold and clean graphic styles like your Vatruska fabric print and your Raitti toys, to the delicate, organic and more watercolour paint style like your Joiku fabric print and your Kesähelle dress, and even your Weather Diary Collection. How do you decide when to use which style?
I like to experiment with different techniques. Usually I don’t need to think about the choice of style so much, I just pick a style that feels natural for the project. And often people ask for a certain style based on my previous works.
Kesähelle print for clothing / Joiku fabric, both for Marimekko
Raitti Toys for Marimekko
It’s such a dream come true to be able to work with Marimekko!! You started working with them in 2006, how did you feel and what was going through your mind then when you knew you were going to design for Marimekko? Which is the very first item you designed for Marimekko?
I took part in a design competition organized by Marimekko and won one of the prizes with my fabric print design Mökki. After the competition Marimekko decided to take the design in their fabric collection. I realized designing prints was something I really enjoyed and started making new sketches and showing them to Marimekko. They kept liking what I designed and I kept developing as a designer so this has resulted in ten years of collaboration already.
Mökki fabric for Marimekko
Do you have a favourite tool/sketchbook/item that means a lot to you when you illustrate/design?
I love watercolours, I have used them a lot for so many years now. I like how when working with watercolours the result is always a surprise as it’s not so easy to control the process.
Please share with us an all time favorite Aino-Maija project/creation, and tell us what makes it your favorite?
I think at the moment the fabrics of the Weather Diary are my favourite, especially the design called Luovi. I have it as curtains at my home and I dream of summer and sailing trips when looking at the fabric.
(left) Luovi fabric print used as Aino-Maija’s curtain in her home (right) Louvi fabric print – aren’t these patterns breathtaking?
Can we have some sneaky peaks to your home/studio space? Which is your favorite part of your home/studio space, and why?
The studio is a room in our home which is both good and bad. Sometimes it’s difficult when you can’t separate work from the rest but I also like being able to work when I feel like it. Often late evening is a good working time for me. I share my studio with my husband who is a graphic designer and illustrator, and this often causes quite a mess in the small space as we both spread our papers, paints, pens and brushes around. And we both constantly dream of a studio where everything has found its place.
My favourite place at home is the embrasure where you can see the sea behind the window. It’s a good place for sketching or just for having coffee.
Snippets of Aino-Maija’s home – how amazing is it that the sea is just right outside of her home!
Lastly, is there anything that you can say to advise or encourage all new/aspiring illustrators/designers out there, to those who might’ve perhaps been discouraged & held back by fear to pursue this full time?
To me it feels quite simple, I’m not sure if it’s always true but I think you can achieve a lot if you work very hard, don’t look at or think about what others do too much and find your own way of doing things.
Raitti Toys for Marimekko
We’ve recently imported some hard covered children books illustrated by Aino-Maija,
and they’re now for sale at the little dröm store (only available our physical store).