POINTS OF PRIDE: In honor of Pride Month, the Finnish design house Marimekko has called upon three LGBTQ visual artists in New York, Bangkok and Helsinki, Finland, to create work for a Marimekko store window.
Brooklyn, New York-based art director and illustrator Shanée Benjamin, Bangkok-based illustrator Juli Baker and Summer and the Helsinki-based visual and textile artist Anna-Karoliina Vainio were recruited for commissions. Baker, who earned a fashion degree at Chulalongkorn University, started her artist career under the nom de plume Juli Baker and Summer in 2015. As a point of reference to help get the three artists’ ideas circulating, they were given a quote by Marimekko founder Armi Ratia, who wrote in her diary at the age of 14, “There is only one strength — love.”
As an official partner of Helsinki Pride since 2018 and a supporter of the Finnish LGBTQ artist community, Marimekko has had similar art window collaborations in Helsinki for the past three years. In addition, the company has a tradition of inviting artists and creatives from all walks of life to create bold and colorful prints in order to brighten the lives of people.
This year is the first that the store window concept was unveiled in New York and Bangkok. Earlier this month, the Brooklyn-based art director and illustrator Benjamin could be seen working on her creation outside of the brand’s Wooster Street store, while shoppers browsed indoors. To give them another taste of her artistry, some of Benjamin’s personal paintings are on display in the store this month.
Although Pride Month winds down in the U.S. at the end of this month, Helsinki’s Pride celebration runs through July 2. Finland’s former president Tarja Halonen, an advocate for the human rights of sexual and gender minorities, will serve as this year’s event patron. Vainio’s artistry will be on view in the Helsinki store until July 3.
It won’t be long before Marimekko has other reasons to celebrate. The Finnish brand will take part in Copenhagen Fashion Week in August, and more plans are in the works for next year in honor of the 60th anniversary of the brand’s Unikko (poppy) print.