- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 17, 2004

Hot hues and pop patterns catapulted the Finnish Marimekko design firm to international fame in the 1950s, a prominence that continued during the next two decades with unique, large-scale fabric patterns and casual, figure-skimming dresses. The company, which later also designed fashion accessories and architecture as well, is now undergoing a renaissance that Washington’s Embassy of Finland is honoring with the smash-hit exhibit Marimekko: Fabrics, Fashion, Architecture. Organized by Finland’s Design Center in Helsinki and the Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design and Culture in New York, the exhibit traces the humble beginnings of Marimekko (the name translates as “Mary’s Dress”) in a factory in 1951, its success through designers such Kristina Isola and Annika Rimala in the 1960s and 1970s, and its later branching out into a kind of utopian architecture. At the Embassy of Finland, 3301 Massachusetts Ave. NW. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily (including weekends) through May 16. Check hours for sudden changes at 202/298-5800.

— Joanna Shaw-Eagle

The Environmental Film Festival returns for its 12th annual showcase starting today at several participating institutions. Almost 100 titles, many of free to the public, will explore the natural and cultural world, with topics as varied as turtles and the architecture of Frank Gehry. One of the most ambitious documentary features, Thom Anderson’s Los Angeles Plays Itself, is also having its debut showings in the Washington area. It will recall the indispensable role of locations in Greater Los Angeles since the advent of the movies. A first screening is scheduled for Saturday at 3 p.m. in the auditorium of the National Gallery of Art’s East Building. Program times range far and wide over the museums on the Mall and spill over into many institutions in other parts of the city. The festival continues through March 28. For additional information, please call 202/342-2564. A complete schedule is available at www.dcenvironmentalfilmmfest.org.

— Gary Arnold

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