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Bold Colors + Clean Lines On A Wintry Day

Bold Colors + Clean Lines On A Wintry Day

Susan Henderson

On a gray and bleak January day, my graphic designer friend, Pia Nummi, who oversees the branding and look of, took me to Toronto’s Interior Design Show.

Our friendship spans over 20 years; we share a love of beautiful things, an interest in fashion, design, Pinterest, good food and good wine. Her beautiful daughter, Sofia, age 11, is my Goddaughter. Pia takes me to fashion shows, art galleries and often helps feed my creative soul. I feed her daughter’s jewelry collection.

Since I was part of the 1994 HGTV Canada launch team, I have frequented The Interior Design show as a sponsor meeting design celebrities there, like The Designer Guys, for whom my PR department once did the publicity.

Now, I look at this show through different eyes - inspiration for my business and home.

After walking the aisles filled with stunning eye candy - bathtubs, fireplaces, rugs, art, sofas and light fixtures - we sat down to enjoy the session with Sami Ruotsalainen
of Marimeko, a European post-war Finnish textile and clothing company world renowned for their colorful, bold graphic prints and table wear.

Pia’s clean and simple design aesthetic is influenced by her Finnish parents and this is a presentation about the growth of a Finnish brand now in about 40 countries. We are both all ears.

Marimekko was born in post war in 1949 when the country was depressed. At this time, Marmekko's bold and colorful prints emerged making them sought-after designs for locals to add a burst of color in the drab post-war days. Armi Ratia, the founder of Marimekko, defined Marimekko as "a cultural phenomenon guiding the quality of living".

Rustsalainen reminds us that creativity is often born of hardship and, indeed, we are truly at our most creative when we feel lost.

Darker times offers the creative soul a blank canvas to fill it with beauty.

I swallow and recall how almost six years ago my old and generous boss from my TV days helped me negotiate free office space in a trendy downtown Toronto area after my divorce. I had decided, rather that going back to work after a seven year hiatus to raise my boys, I was going to grow my already thriving jewelry hobby into a full-time business. In addition to a love for making and designing jewelry, I had two reasons fueling this desire that I kissed and tucked into bed at night. So, I turned any negative energy into my passion to build something beautiful and meaningful that would also help build other people’s dreams.

I love seeing designer’s Ruotsalainen tiny black-and-white drawings and colourful graphic travel photos which he later put into themes to inspire the line. The impressive story on how he designed the outside of Finish planes - their largest collaboration yet - with Marimekko was fascinating. The company also designed the interior airplane experience with their table wear and even a pok-a-dot Marimekko blanket.

He said, “the shapes (of all the designs) have to be so strong that they can survive without prints.” For example his Oiva teapot (I want one!) is made with bold pattern and also in plain white. This too is true of my Suetables jewelry designs where some of the sterling silver pendants are also worn without hand-stamped words on them especially the Pia Trinity - in which good luck and good design comes in threes. This piece is inspired by the design rule of thirds - a good example how architectural design and fashion merge in jewelry design.

Globe and Mail’s Fashion Editor, Andrew Sardone (who introduced today’s speaker) reminds us that the lines between fashion and interiors are merged and blurred and that each discipline infuses this other.

Indeed, later, as I admire a glass round light bulb (see above), I am inspired to do a glass round pendant. I take a quick snap and we are off for lunch.

Warmth, color, inspiring design, brand stories, hot soup and home-made bread fill our spirits and stomachs on an icy January day.

What fills your spirit?

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