Two pair of hands measuring a piece of fabric.

A bold print captures summer and sauna in IKEA and Marimekko's BASTUA

A first-ever collaboration between IKEA and Marimekko, BASTUA is set to bring the joy and relaxation of sauna moments to everyday objects. One such object: a shower curtain sporting the first revealed print developed especially for the collection, inspired by the theme. We asked print experts Minna and Maija at Marimekko to share what’s in a sauna moment – and how the rhubarb print tells the story of one in particular.

A few things tend to keep residents of the Nordic countries warm and at ease during the famously dark and cold winters. Radiators and comforters, of course, as well as a healthy dose of more or less fashionable layers of clothing for braving the outdoors. But the particular warmth captured in BASTUA, the collaboration between IKEA and Marimekko, can be attributed to a completely different source: the sauna.

Now, saunas can be found across the Nordic countries, often in proximity to a body of water that allows for a cooling dip before or between hot sauna sessions. But in no country is the sauna lifestyle as culturally important as it is in Finland, home to a population of 5.5 million people – and an estimated 3 million saunas.

It's a place to unwind and focus on wellbeing, both mental and physical.

A woman in glasses holding a piece of fabric.
Minna Kemell-Kutvonen, Design Director for Print & Home Design at Marimekko.

“Sauna has a very important role in Finnish life. It’s a place to unwind and focus on wellbeing, both mental and physical”, says Minna Kemell-Kutvonen, Design Director for Print & Home Design at Marimekko and unofficial resident sauna specialist.

“I go to sauna every week, once or twice, just to be quiet and listen to my body and mind. Even with family and other people, we don’t speak so much there. And if we speak, it’s mostly sharing deeper thoughts. It’s meaningful.”

The origins of the sauna lifestyle

Two pair of hands measuring a piece of fabric.

Bringing a beloved Nordic summer staple to print

Commonly grown across the Nordic countries, rhubarb – its stems, more precisely – popularly provides a tart element to mostly sweet treats and baked goods over the summer months in the region. To BASTUA, it brings a bold print through the design of Maija Louekari, print designer for Marimekko and long-time fan of the plant.

“Nordic plants are usually quite small because we don’t have as much light all year around as other countries in Europe. Rhubarb has quite a unique taste and is very Nordic, but it has these huge leaves and I really like that”, says Maija. “They’re almost a bit exotic.”

A portrait of a woman with long blond hair in a red dress.
Maija Louekari, print designer for Marimekko.
Two hands pointing at color samples.

Knowing that she wanted an element of nature in print for BASTUA, the proximity of rhubarb to sauna proved to be only the beginning of the story to be told with the print.

“In this really Nordic theme, I wanted to have big bold things. To create a simple and calm feeling from the big surfaces and shapes that the leaves make”, Maija explains.

The big, bold leaves balance the naturally vibrant colours, overlapping by design in traditional Marimekko manner. Colours inspired by the rhubarb itself as well as the long, bright days of Nordic summer.

A fabric pattern with rhubarbs.
The BASTUA rhubarb print.

“I was already a fan of this colour combination, the pink and green of the rhubarb leaves”, says Maija. “We have so much light in the summer here, so all the colours are really bright and beautiful everywhere. It gives a joyful feeling”.

A feeling she always aims to capture in her designs, especially for the home.

“Home is such a special, important place for people. You want to feel safe and happy there. With this collection, I hope people can have a piece of the Nordic happiness in their home, even without the sauna.”

The BASTUA rhubarb print shower curtain is currently available at the H22 Expo in Helsingborg, Sweden and will also be at Fuorisalone in Milan, Italy from 6 June. The collection will be available in IKEA stores in spring 2023.