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Daily: Marimekko print copied from Ukrainian folk artist

The Marimekko pattern known as Metsänväki ("Forest Dwellers") has been used as part of the decor for Finnair long-range flights. The daily Helsingin Sanomat reports that the print was copied from a painting by a Ukrainian folk artist.

Metsänväki -kangas.
Image: Marimekko

A pattern created for the iconic Finnish design company Marimekko by in-house designer Kristina Isola appears to be copied from the work of Ukrainian folk artist Maria Primachenko.

According to Helsingin Sanomat Primachenko, who died in 1997, created the painting titled "Rat on a Journey" in 1963, while the design created by Isola dates back only to 2007. The animal figure in the original painting was not reproduced in Isola’s design, but otherwise it is difficult to tell the difference between the two.

"A complete shock"

"The fact that another artist’s work has been used as the basis for the Metsänväki pattern comes as a complete shock and a deep disappointment to us," Marimekko artistic director Minna Kemell-Kutvonen told Helsingin Sanomat.

An acclaimed designer, Isola had worked with Marimekko for decades. Helsingin Sanomat was unable to reach her for comment.

Marimekko said that designers are always responsible for their own designs; Marimekko however holds the commercial license for the works they use.

A blue version of the pattern has been used for the décor of long-haul flights by national carrier Finnair as part of a cooperation agreement with Marimekko. The pattern is not currently available for sale in Marimekko outlets.

Born in 1908, Maria Primachenko was a self-taught artist whose popular work of the naive or primitivism genre portrayed Ukrainian folk art based on animal and plant life. Many of her oeuvres are included in a collection of folk art at the Ukrainian national museum.

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