Meet our guest pattern designer: Terttu Rönkkö

Published: 24/04/2024

Once a year we meet fresh designer talents in our portfolio reviews. This way we keep an eye on what is happening in the pattern design field in Finland. We have a high-quality design education system and way more skilled and well-trained pattern designers than we can help or serve. This year we have invited four guest designers to work with us. Their patterns are available in our pattern library and the designs follow us in exhibitions and customer meetings. Here is a small interview with one of them, Terttu Rönkkö.

Terttu Rönkkö – a designer of artistic patterns

Who are you and where do you come from?

I am Lumimarja Terttu Rönkkö, a graphic designer from Espoo, Finland. In addition to corporate graphics, I design patterns and illustrate. I work in my design office “Lumimarja” in Tapiola, Espoo. I am a member of the design associations Grafia and Ornamo.

What is your education?

I have a master’s degree in philosophy, majoring in graphic design. I also studied this on a university exchange in the United States. My other studies are art education, organizational communication, and marketing as minor subjects. I did my degree on renewing the company ID.

I train myself regularly in both graphic design and artistic techniques and design. I make serigraphs and woodcuts and paint with ink oil and watercolors. Artistic excursions strengthen me as a visual designer and, keep my designs sensitive and creative. I also actively use electronic drawing and painting tools and find them particularly important when making sketches publishable.

Describe yourself as a designer

I am passionate about design and always challenge myself and my work methods. The desire to experiment and reach for something new fascinates me. Naturally, at first, I start to sprawl easily and I might go a few meters in an intoxicating flow. As a designer, it’s characteristic of me to first map out the visual game space of possibilities and initially go from edge to edge and at the same time try to see if edges even exist at all where they most often settle. Coincidence also plays an important role in different design stages.

In my work as a graphic designer, I am interested in the interplay of images and words. It is important to me that my design takes shape both aesthetically and content-wise. Depending on the work and the client, I think that the task of graphic design is to describe messages, and therefore its function is sometimes more instrumental than having an independent value.

In pattern design, the most exciting ideas can arise by simplifying complex and rich shapes and combining patterns. Simplifying and finding the essentials is challenging but fascinating, and I try to strive towards it all the time. 

I also have a rational side of me, and sometimes a funny and expressive plan has been found through a carefully organized and goal-oriented composition. I use this side e.g. when illustrating book covers, where the playing field of possibilities is precisely defined in terms of subject matter and nature. I see this kind of work as a kind of design swimming pool that I dive into and systematically explore in depth.

Who is your role model?

My design role model is the Finnish design icon Vuokko Nurmesniemi. I like her ability to simplify and find the essentials. Make a powerful, strong memory. I also admire e.g. Picasso’s ability to see things from a different, his own point of view. I have also often returned to e.g. To Matisse’s cut-and-paste methods, which have brought a new perspective to my way of seeing things more clearly.

What are you inspired by?

I follow contemporary art, fashion and architecture. I was especially inspired by depicting three-dimensional shapes on a two-dimensional surface. I get ideas from random observations: lights and shadows, fashion, movies, forms of nature. I get inspiration from the interplay of different shapes, fascinating color combinations, surface textures that I come across and are surprised and excited about in everyday life: A detail in a work of art, a flash of light and reflections in a puddle, a composition of roof and wall shapes, the repetition of rectilinear shapes in structural elements, shadows of plants on concrete, dots of color in the bustle of people, hem free form, continuity, rhythm of folds.

What would be your dream pattern design project?

The project of my dreams is a long-lasting pattern collection that can be varied and modified in new ways every year, covering both interior and clothing patterns, including sustainable material choices.

Where are your patterns published in products?

I designed the first bedding and blanket collection for Heimtextil about ten years ago. This spring, a domestic company will publish women’s summer clothes from my patterns: dresses, tunics, shirts, and pants. I have designed several patterns as part of my graphic design projects for curtains, blankets, and scarves and designed various promotional materials and products.

What are your wishes for the future professionally and/or otherwise in your life?

I want to realize everyday experiences and insights in a goal-oriented and sustainable way. I aim for productive and idea-rich thinking and implementations in varying projects – both fundamentally functional and partly completely artistic. I wish for myself and my environment the desire to experiment and the frenzy of renewal, the discovery of the essential, timeless colors and shapes, and sustainable choices.

“I don’t know anything with certainty, but seeing the stars makes me dream.” – Vincent van Gogh

What is your favorite pattern from your patterns in Patternfrom Agency’s pattern library?

I like the pattern called “Origami” because it is timeless and it has a great three-dimensionality. It is suitable for a wide variety of end products – both interior and upholstery fabric, woven products, and for designing clothes.