Even if you don’t know it by name, you’ve probably seen it before. Over the past half-century, Marimekko’s Unikko poppy print has been worn by Jacqueline Kennedy
before she became first lady, painted on the body of a Finnair jetliner, and printed on countless home decor
items at Crate and Barrels
around the world.
The design’s ubiquity is all the more remarkable when you consider it was never meant to exist in the first place.
In 1964, the head of the Marimekko decreed the Finnish design house would never ever make a floral print. So in a protestive move befitting the era, designer Maija Isola painted Unikko, which means “poppy” in Finnish. The print was a cheery cluster of red and pink blooms set simply against a white background, and it quickly became Marimekko’s most popular design.
Now, it’s being honored with a 50th-birthday celebration, complete with limited-edition colorways such as hot pink and orange and international special events. A takeover of a Madison Square Garden pop-up market
, for example, covered the space with flowery tablecloths and picnic umbrellas.
Though the fabric’s been quite busy, we recently sat down with Unikko to learn more about its plans for the future and its secrets to longevity.
GROUPON: Even after all these years, you still look so young and fresh. What’s your secret?
UNIKKO: It’s simple, really. I get plenty of rest, drink lots of water, and eat only organic Pantone color chips.
G: You’re everywhere—clothes, bedsheets, the outside of an airplane, the inside of a subway. What do you do in your free time to decompress?
U: I often relax by listening to a tape of printing-press noises, but when I feel more energetic, I like to play pranks on my colleagues Kaivo
. I usually invert their colorways and see how long it takes them to notice.
G: What celeb would you love to see in your print?
U: I think I’d look wonderful on Pharrell’s hat
. I’d also love to see the Mona Lisa in a more cheerful pattern. I know she’s smiling, but could she look more drab?
G: What fashion trends do you hate?
U: I don’t like pointy prints. They go against everything I stand for. Chevron, this means you.
G: What’s your dream vacation spot?
G: Are you seeing anybody right now?
U: To tell you the truth, I’m in the midst of an affair with a particular Madras plaid. What can I say? Opposites attract!
G: Juicy! Good for you. What do you two like to do together?
U: Oh, usual couple stuff. Drinking piña coladas, getting caught in the rain, and then running inside so we don’t bleed to death. (See what I did there?)
G: What’s your advice for young patterns out there today?
U: Don’t be afraid to repeat yourself. That’s the only way you’ll be able to take over an entire wall someday.
Illustration by Peter Hopkins, Groupon