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Ihamuotila says “sorry” for Marimekko print controversy

The CEO of Finnish design company Marimekko has apologised for his company’s actions last week after doubts were raised over the originality of one of the firm’s designs. The Hetkiä (‘Moments’) print was inspired by a photograph from the 1960s, and although there is nothing untoward about that, Ihamuotila says Marimekko should have been more open about its provenance.

Mika Ihamuotila. Image: Yle

Maija Louekari’s design was the focus of attention last week, when Yle reported claims that a bag purchased in 2001 bore a striking resemblance to the 2003 fabric. Marimekko published a rebuttal, but neglected to mention the real inspiration for the work—a Markus Lepo photograph from the 1960s.

“I am immensely sad and sorry for the situation we got into, where we have not been continuously open about the origins of all our designs, or at least where the inspiration for them came from,” said Ihamuotila.

He emphasised that using a photograph as inspiration is permitted, but that designers should be open about their sources. Marimekko was informed about the true origins of the fabric on Friday morning.

“I absolutely want to ensure that we can trust that our designers are open about where they get their inspiration for their work,” said Ihamuotila. “This trust benefits customers, designers and Marimekko.”

“As a company we cannot accept any kind of plagiarism. I demand zero tolerance of that.”

Ihamuotila also announced that Marimekko would cease co-operation with Kristiina Isola, the designer at the centre of a previous plagiarism scandal. She admitted copying the work of a Ukrainian folk artist for her 'Forest People' print.