Between the Sheets

Between the Sheets: Marimekko, Ken Done and the Construction of Identity

Final Presentation for the Masters Thesis, “Between the Sheets: Marimekko, Ken Done und die Konstruktion von Identität” at the Universität der Künste, Berlin in July 2012.
Marimekko is a Design Firm from Finland and Ken Done is a designer from Australia. Both dealt with defining a new national image for Finland and Australia- nations defined by their isolation, cultural insecurity and natural beauty.
I focused on a Marimekko bedspread from 1974 which is the fabric design called “Pähkinäpuu” and a tropical fish scarf from 1985 which was made by Ken Done Designs. Both objects played a significant role in my biography and were used to explain how the meaning of objects can often be misinterpreted depending on the viewer and their background. However, I also posed the question whether it is also possible that objects can still influence people with their original, intended meaning- a point which I link with the feminist principles of the Marimekko company and how I may have been influenced by the “Pähkinäpuu” bedspread to become a Feminist that now lives in Northern Europe.
The presentation also featured the presentation “Wir Sind so Glücklich”- a conversation in German using the accent of the Sydney Bourgeoisie to the tune of Kylie Minogue. The discussion centred on the reception of Ken Done’s design objects by the middle class of Sydney. Ken Done likened the lifestyle of Sydneysiders in the 1980s with the lifestyle of the French Bourgeoisie which was painted by Matisse in Southern France in the early nineteenth century. As a result, Ken Done was very popular among mainstream Australians as he created a positive image of Australia which was not connected to the difficulties of Australian history, geographic isolation or cultural inferiority. A sculpture named “Australian Nachos” was also created consisting of croissants, whipped cream and colourful cake sprinkles which served as a commentary on the Australian appropriation of European culture and the excessive, colourful, yet superficial qualities of the Australian middle class.