In the sauna with Tuula Pöyhönen

Stories July 1st 2013

In the sauna with Tuula Pöyhönen

The Sauna collection

This summer, Marimekko is introducing a new Sauna collection of linen bathrobes, easy-to-wear sauna tunics and all kinds of beautiful towels. Now you can cool off on the veranda in style and experience the magic of the sauna moment.

Read designer Tuula Pöyhönen’s thoughts about the collection and sauna:

Where did you get the inspiration for Marimekko’s new Sauna collection?

The design team and I agreed that we would execute the collection in linen and cotton-linen. I’ve always loved linen fabrics woven into a pattern; texture plays an essential role in the pattern that forms. I studied the stitching of old linen textiles and scaled the weave for different sizes. The collection of linen towels plays with this idea.

How did you choose the products and colours for the collection?

The colour of linen is wonderfully raw. It softens bright primary colours in a nice way. In traditional home textiles, the embroidery is often done in blue or red. Adding green and yellow brought joy to the mix. The waffle-weave products in a blend of black and off-white linen – the towels and bathrobe – entered the collection when we selected Maija Louekari’s print Vellamo in those tones for the sauna bags. So the collection brings together two different colour-ways: deep, tar-toned waffle-weave products and bags and then cheerful linen and cotton-linen products.

The sauna garments for women that are part of the collection are like linen towels you can wear. Easy, loose, unfussy. I use them myself, and not only for the sauna. A sauna dress also looks great with high heels!

What sort of role does the sauna play in your life?

For the first nine years of my life, I lived on Sauna Road in a town called Jyväskylä. The street was named after the sauna at the end of the road. At that time, most of the homes for factory workers didn’t have showers, so people would usually bathe in the public sauna on Saturdays. There were family saunas upstairs, but Mum or whoever was minding me would usually take me to the women’s sauna. I remember the wooden platforms being enormous. After the sauna, we would buy a soda from the big refrigerator. In the basement of the building, there was a laundry and a giant mangle for wringing out the sheets. It smelled lovely.

The building we live in now doesn’t have a common sauna, nor do we have one in our flat. I normally get a chance to sauna with my upstairs neighbour on Sundays. It’s one of the important social activities in my life. I also go ice swimming and sometimes sauna when I do that.

Our summer home in Köyliö isn’t on the lake, but there is a spring nearby. I often bike there after the sauna in my bathrobe and go for a dip. The sauna textiles we have at the cottage are like layered life that has collected over the years.

What sorts of things do you associate with sauna culture?

For me, the sauna is a social event. I almost never bathe in the sauna alone. Being naked, even with strangers, feels like a ritual that does away with pretensions. It is pretty mind-boggling, when you look at it through a foreigner’s eyes. 

Describe your perfect sauna moment.

It usually happens after the chatter-sauna bit has ended and I go back for one more session in the steam alone. The term chatter-sauna comes from my childhood, and now my sons are carrying on the tradition.

What should the sauna itself be like?

Clean. It’s best if the sauna is on a lake or the sea. The combination of cold and hot is important. I love strong contrasts and extreme conditions.

Give us a tip for the sauna.

I’ve been to the new Culture Sauna in Helsinki a couple of times. Highly recommended! Such a gorgeous place. A fantastic urban sauna experience in the heart of Helsinki.