Louekari sisters are the power duo of Finnish design. They find inspiration on their childhood’s hippie summers in the Turku archipelago and wish that Finnish design circles would be more proud.
Helsinki Design Weekly met the power duo of Finnish design: the Louekari sisters. Maija Louekari 33 years of age is a print designer and Martta Louekari 38 years is a creative director.
Hello, sisters! How are you?
Maija: Very well thank you. My garden just exploded into full bloom, so I am really happy.
Martta: My baby Pepe just got into his summer coat!
Both of you have worked hard to promote Finnish culture and design to the rest of the world. How have your roots made you the persons you are?
Maija: I strongly believe in the power of upbringing. Hippie summers in the Turku archipelago, cold winters in the North, and of course lots of love – a summary of my roots.
Martta: Our family really supported creativity, respect of others, and dreaming.
Maija: Martta has always been the most outgoing among the siblings. She’s been a natural with people since she was a little girl. Martta created a framework for our adventures and taught us to use our imaginations. I could always trust on her to take care of me. We didn’t know of titles like Creative Director when we were kids, so I thought she was going to be a doctor.
Martta: Maija was a doe-eyed child who quietly watched us bigger kids raise hell. We discovered her amazing sense of humour when she grew older. The funniest stories and jokes in our childhood were always told by Maija. These days Maija is nearly always happy and more care-free than before.
What projects are you currently working on?
Martta: The latest fashion event, Helsinki New Fashion Showcase, is currently on my desk. And Finnair & Finavia’s Match Made in HEL, communicated from an Asian point of view. In addition, I’m engaged in Finpro’s training programme for the fashion industries and presenting Finnish brands during the Soul fashion week, in Moscow and in China, as well as a collection of architectural material that is to be taken to Moscow next autumn. Juni Communications & Production provides communications, productions, and PR, and we specialize in the internationalisation of the creative fields as well as export projects to Asia.
Maija: I am currently drawing an illustration to Japan. I’m also working on Marimekko Aw17 and children’s prints for Vimma. Obviously I’m very occupied by my baby, too. He will be one year old in the summer.
What is your working method? Do you ask each other for concrete support or encouragement for your own projects?
Maija: Sometimes I ask for Martta’s opinion during my creative process. She knows much better what is going on in the fashion world. Martta has always had a good eye for trending.
I mainly draw by hand, but when I’m creating kids’ prints, I try to create new types of surfaces. For example, I was inspired by my daughter modeling clay when creating my print called Maailma muovautuu (“The World is Taking Shape”). It conveys an important message about letting children form their own worlds by themselves.
Martta: Maija is more conservative and critical, so I often consult her with bigger strategic decisions. We both have very good networks. In addition to creativity, Maija possesses a great deal of strategic thinking skills.
Which of your sister’s characteristics would you like to have?
Martta: Maija is very diplomatic and understanding. When she moved from lower to upper secondary school, the teacher became worried; Maija was the one who settled all the disputes in the classroom and balanced the group.
Maija: Martta is the most emphatic person I know. If I have worries, I always call her. In my heart I know that she is always on my side.
Which of your sister’s works make her particularly happy?
Martta: I believe that many of the Marimekko prints are important to her. They include places and landscapes from our childhood. They are important for her personal life, too.
Maija: At the moment Martta is most happy about her son Pepe. She also enjoys her achievements in making Finnish fashion known to the world, although I know that those achievements are not enough for her. Martta wants talented people to go far, and she takes care that they do!
Do you have any idols among artists or styles?
Maija: Everyone who listens to their heart is my idol. Kids are my style icons when they are free to choose and put on their own outfits.
Martta: My idols include old-time explorers, like Ernest Shackleton, who tried to cross the Antarctica, and Grace Drummond-Hay, a journalist who flew around the world in a Zeppelin.
Who do you follow on Instagram?
Martta: Vogue Vintage. I love the history of fashion and fashion photos, and they are combined by this profile. I also follow Taika Mannila. If I were young, I’d want to be like Taika. In addition I follow a design director from Shanghai, my friend Jelenaeva. Jelena’s Instagram feed maintains my enthusiasm for Asia now that I am not able to travel there often because of my baby.
Where can we see your touch in the future?
Martta: Helsinki New Fashion Showcases and fashion export projects to Asia.
Maija: In homes around the world, I hope.
The Helsinki Design Week theme for this year is “Better”. What ideas does it generate in your minds?
Martta: I believe that we can create a better world by listening to and understanding other people. To be able to look at the world from another angle is a big deal. Kindness creates kindness, love creates love. Inequality and injustice are not to be accepted.
Maija: A better world is tolerant towards everything and everybody. Peace&love, let’s be friends.
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