Augmented Reality dressing wall improving in-store experience

Iconic Finnish Design meets Augmented Reality - Marimekko Designathon

Wow, what a great weekend we had at Marimekko Designathon! A designathon is a hackathon with an emphasis on design over code, and Marimekko’s first ever designathon was held at their headquarters in Herttoniemi, on September 15–17. 

The challenge they had set was to use augmented and virtual reality technologies to bring together people and Marimekko’s colors and patterns. The designathon was a 3-day long sprint, like hackathons most often are, and teams aimed to solve the given design problem in that time.

What did we do and how? 

There are many reasons to attend a hackathon or a designathon – competence development, team building, networking, and business opportunities. For us, one additional reason was to get to know to our Siili colleagues from Oulu, who joined the team from all the way up North. Building a competent team was the first thing to do, and our cross-functional squad consisted of our service and UX designer Michi, 3D artist Sandi, visual designer Mikko, AR developer Juuso, and me a business and service designer. 


Before the designathon started, we did research on Marimekko, its markets, consumer behaviour, and culture, plus did some benchmarking. On Friday, we got our team and a car full of equipment to Herttoniemi, and were introduced to the production facilities of Marimekko. It was alluring to see how their fabrics are produced through the phases of pattern design, color-mixing, printing, and quality control. The tour was followed by inspirational speeches about Marimekko and the future possibilities of AR and VR. Then, it was time to start hacking.


Service design + tech skills = magic

While we interviewed Marimekko’s stakeholders to validate our initial concept idea, it turned out our second option was more suitable to Marimekko’s needs. So, we pivoted! Our finalized concept was a virtual dressing wall, a way to enhance Marimekko’s storytelling, show new collections to store customers, and tell visual stories behind the famous patterns. 

In the solution, nature and everyday life – the inspirations behind the designs – morph into Marimekko’s patterns, and from there to pieces of clothing via animated videos. The videos are played openly on the store wall, dressing up the customers in store, and attracting by-passers.


Technically the solution was built on Microsoft Kinect, which detected the movements of the customer and 3D-modelled the clothing onto the customer. It was mind-blowing to see how Marimekko’s Liidokki dress was 3D-modelled and coded on a person standing before Kinect, and our technical proficiency did not go unnoticed by the jury and other teams. 

Did we win?

On Sunday, it was time to present our results. Despite our good efforts, we weren’t selected to the finalists who will present their ideas at Slush. It’s a bit of a disappointment, but the other teams and their solutions were amazing, too! 

Personally, I feel that I won. I’m so proud of our team and output, I made new friends, and learned a ton about AR and VR. In order to be successful in my daily work as a service designer, it’s extremely important to understand the possibilities of technology. It is often the key element in sustainable solutions, creating value for the user and the business, and making processes more efficient.

After the designathon, I have new tricks up in my sleeve and insight on how AR can be utilized in various industries. That’s a nice take-away, too.