Hit Repeat

Finnish illustrator Linda Linko's work in recent years has featured plenty of fantastic pattern, from wallpapers and murals to textiles and apparel. We caught up with Linda to discover more about how she approaches this particular aspect of her practice...

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'Far Away Black', Textile design for Vimma Company, 2015

What prompted you to start working in pattern and surface design—was there anything in particular that attracted you to this way of working?
I was introduced to surface and pattern design as a part of brand identity in my early years working as a designer in an agency. When I started working on my own and became an illustrator, patterns just kind of happened. I always thought that designing a pattern would be easy, but after making my first textile print I realised how difficult it actually is. It's easy to make a nice image, but that’s just not enough to make it work as a pattern. It's the challenge that got me interested in pattern design, really. Pattern is like the next level of illustration.

I also think my style works well for patterns as it's more nuance-based than narrative. What I love about patterns is that they kind of represent a mood. Finland is also a land of patterns, just think about Marimekko and Iittala. We are a pattern nation!

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'Blurri', Textile design for Vimma Company, 2016

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'Blurri', Textile design for Vimma Company, 2016. Photo by Sini Gustafsson / Vimma Company

What are the different challenges that pattern-based work poses to you as a designer?
The challenge is that the pattern must work as a big scale image as well as from a closer viewpoint, and both within the same glance. When I was designing my first wallpaper (for a hotel) the design needed to look good on a 3 x 6 meter scale from a 1-4 meter viewing distance, but also include a lot of interesting details down to one inch in size from a closer perspective. In the composition, I took care to make sure that there were smaller details at eye level and that the bigger features were more towards the ceiling and floor.

There's also a lot of headache about how the colours will eventually appear. The overall feel of a pattern can be dramatically different once you have a 20 metre roll of your fabric pattern in front of you. Some colours that you thought were just small accents might pop out and really draw all your attention.

Pattern design also has a lot to do with style and creating a certain illusion. You have to set a goal of "how the pattern feels" first, otherwise you just end up losing track.

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Work in progress for 'Helsinki' Wallpaper for Hotel Indigo Bulevard Helsinki (Restel), 2015.

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Detail from 'Helsinki' Wallpaper for Hotel Indigo Bulevard Helsinki (Restel), 2015.

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Room view, 'Helsinki' Wallpaper for Hotel Indigo Bulevard Helsinki (Restel), 2015. Photography by Paavo Lehtonen 2016

Has your recent textile and wallpaper-based work introduced you to any new production techniques or methods?
Yes. Both wallpaper and textiles have their own processes and methods, which I've learnt by doing. There are still probably a lot of things I don't know, and which I could do better, but I don't really stress about it. For example, the pattern repeat for my Vår Gård wallpaper is about 9 meters and it has a file size as big as 1GB, which is not very practical. But at least it's unique!

At the moment I am designing my first dishware pattern. The whole technical process is new to me, as well as the idea of printing onto a small porcelain product. I am still in the middle of the learning process.

I enjoy making textiles for kids clothing—not only because of the freedom of making more experimental things, but also because I can make things that my son (and I) can wear! Boys’ clothing is so much more boring than girls’, and I'd love to do something about it. I am very interested in what makes a pattern a girls’ or a boys’ pattern, and my goal is to come up with something in between. I don't really mean unisex, as that’s often considered something "plain", but something splashy and fun that's both girlish and boyish. It's surprisingly difficult, and in my opinion I've only fully succeeded in reaching my goal in one pattern (Blurri, for Vimma).

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'Blurri', Textile design for Vimma Company, 2016. Photo by Sini Gustafsson / Vimma Company

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'Dalmatian', Textile design for Vimma Company, 2014

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'Dalmatian', Textile design for Vimma Company, 2014. Photo by Sini Gustafsson / Vimma Company

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'Dalmatian', Textile design for Vimma Company, 2014. Photo by Sini Gustafsson / Vimma Company

What's the most important or inspiring thing you've learned through working on these projects?
Hard to say. I just find it inspiring when I see people wearing and using my patterns in different ways. There's something about patterns that makes them more close to everyday life and people in general.

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'Radio Helsinki', Wallpaper for Radio Helsinki, 2015.

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'Radio Helsinki', preview of the wallpaper for Radio Helsinki, at Stockholm Design Week 2015.

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'Radio Helsinki' (detail), Wallpaper for Radio Helsinki, 2015.

What are you working on next, and what are your ambitions for future projects?
I pretty much cleared the table before going on my five-week summer holiday (gee that was great!). There's a lot of stuff coming out this fall, for example a project I worked together with Dennis Eriksson for a premium work and lifestyle concept in London. Unfortunately I can't say much about my future projects and the ones in progress. In the future, my plan is to take more time for my art. I am always curious to find new ways, techniques and surfaces to implement within my style.

One future dream project would be to start producing a wallpaper. I have sketches and a lot of ideas, but I’ve just been too busy or lazy to actually do something about it.


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'Linda Pattern', Textile pattern and commercial use, Finnish Design Shop, 2016

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'Four Seasons at Vår Gård', Brand identity pattern for Vår Gård Stockholm, 2017

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'Four Seasons at Vår Gård', Brand identity pattern for Vår Gård Stockholm, 2017

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'Four Seasons at Vår Gård', Brand identity pattern for Vår Gård Stockholm, 2017