the sally sisson blog


March 9, 2018

Wear Equality: Design of the Times

Last fall, on a guided walking tour of the Helsinki Design District, I learned a fun fact in the Marimekko flagship store. The Tasaralta, their iconic striped shirt (pictured above), is more than just a wardrobe staple. It’s also a bold statement piece.

Unlike the stripes on, say, the classic Breton or L.L. Bean sailor shirt, these ones are equally spaced. The even stripes symbolize equality—between genders and people of different ages, shapes and sizes. “Even stripes for equality” is the tagline.

This was news to me. I’ve been a fan of the textile brand for decades (even making curtains out of Marimekko sheets to match my Marimekko bedspread in my first college dorm room). But I guess I’d never given the stripes on their pillows and T-shirts a second thought.

Purposeful design is a hallmark of the company. “Fairness to everyone and everything” is one of their company values. The vision from the start was to create functional, everyday, often unisex (or anonymous) clothing that would suit anyone and everyone, “empowering people to be true to who they are.”

Last year the company teamed up with Equality Now, an organization dedicated to protecting the human rights of women and girls around the world. As part of a six-week campaign, Marimekko stores in North America and online donated $10 USD to the charity for each Tasaraita “even stripe” garment sold. Read more here:

WWD: Marimekko Partners With Equality Now for Partnership to Encourage Women’s Empowerment

Feminist icon, ahead of her time

Later that day I lingered in the Design Museum and learned more of the backstory. Finnish textile designer Armi Ratia and her husband Viljo founded Marimekko in 1951 after buying the Printex fabric company. These were drab post-war times and their aim was to crank things up with bold, colorful patterns and create inventive new designs. In the first decade Marimekko built up a solid line of clothing and home accessories, along with a loyal Scandi following.

It wasn’t until 1960 that the company really made a name for itself worldwide. That’s when Jackie Kennedy bought seven of their dresses in a single shopping spree, later showing them off on the campaign trail. Pictures of the First Lady in her crisp, modern frocks soon made the fashion news and, most famously, the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine. The fashions were seen as comfortable and approachable, everyday designs for everyday life.

The late sixties brought bolder designs and political statements. 1968 saw the launch of the Equal Rights Amendment campaign in the U.S., a strike for equal pay by 850 women machinists at the Dagenham Ford factory in the U.K., and the election of Shirley Chisholm, the first African-American woman to sit on the U.S. House of Representatives. Looking back now, the debut of the Tasaraita even-striped T-shirt that year makes perfect sense.

 

“I don’t sell clothes, I sell a way of living. They are designs, not fashions. I sell ideas, not dresses.”

– Armi Ratia, textile artist and founder of Marimekko, 1963

It wasn’t until decades later that Armi gained the recognition she deserved as Finland’s foremost female entrepreneur—and one of the world’s most famous designers.

“At Marimekko, Armi Ratia was a textile artist, managing director, creative director, wizard of words, publicity guru, and wellspring of inspiration. She had an incredible ability to decipher the mood of the times and sense future trends. She also had a genius for recognizing talent and finding ways to realize even the wildest, most imaginative ideas. 

“Even today, Marimekko’s success owes much to Armi’s ideas. She was a trailblazer who made Marimekko a way of life, an attitude, a phenomenon embracing the everyday and the extraordinary.”

– marimekko.com 

Another bold icon to celebrate on International Women’s Day, I’d say.

No Comments

April 1, 2012

Foolish Infographics (April Fool’s edition)

I’m always on the lookout for good infographics. As a “visual learner” and follower of trends in information design, I’m both delighted and bemused by the daily flood of data visualization on the Internet. Often I’m more enamored with the execution than with the content itself, so when I come across a silly “mock” infographic, the joke’s on me.

Here are some of my favorites:

Infographic: Mr T Pie Chart

Mr T Pie Chart via ScienceDump

 

Ben Greenman’s Charts About Graphs and Graphs About Charts

This series on McSweeney’s is funny and spot-on. My top picks:

Infographic from McSweeney's

Graph #1 by Ben Greenman

 

Infographic from McSweeney's

Graph #16 by Ben Greenman

 

 

Infographic from McSweeney's

Graph #8: Special East Coast Hurricane Edition

For more funny examples, check out:

McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: Ben Greenman’s Graphs About Charts and Charts About Graphs

No Comments

December 1, 2011

Web content and the eternal home page question: How much is too much?

 

education websites | xkcd venn diagram

I love this Venn diagram by xkcd. It was projected on the wall at the start of a Future M seminar I attended this September called “Beyond the University Website – The Future of Digital Marketing in Higher Education.” This image keeps coming back to me, in content decisions for both edu and B2B.

Sponsored by ISITE Design, and moderated by chief strategy officer Jeff Cram, the panel included Mike Petroff, Web and Technology Enrollment Manager at Emerson College; Perry Hewitt, Chief Digital Officer at Harvard; Gene Begin, Digital Marketing Director at Babson College; and Tom Baird, Vice Chancellor of University of Michigan Dearborn.

Content Overload? It’s all about balance.

I’ve been working on content strategy, optimization, writing and editing for an independent preK-8 school website this year and am about to begin on one for an independent high school. Funny how, regardless of the size of the school, the home page issues always seem to be the same.

How to balance content for current vs. prospective students and constituents? How many news feeds, blog feeds, photo and video galleries do you really need? How can we make sure it’s all optimized for search? What is the true purpose of the home page anyway? How much is too much?

I’m knee-deep in content migration from one CMS to another on the above mentioned website, but once I come up for air I’ll grapple with this question some more. Got any formulas for success? Would love to hear them.

FutureM wrap-ups:

Here are a couple good summaries of the FutureM seminar, along with some choice tweets on CMS quandries (as universal as the homepage ones, it seems to me), mobile stats for edu, and the need for social strategy:

Open Parenthesis: Future M on Higher Education
post by John Eckman of ISTE

Inside FutureM: Digital Marketing and Higher Education
post by Erik Devaney on New England Post

 

 

No Comments