Hot import

With the August opening of its gleaming-white duplex boutique, Marimekko (140 Newberry Street, Boston, 617.247.2500) is once again smack in the public eye. But Back Bay browsers may not all realize the Finnish design brand’s deep ties to the Boston area. Back in the 1950s and ’60s, legendary architect Ben Thompson revolutionized New England taste with his Harvard Square store, Design Research, which spawned several additional locations and, in 1959, became the very first US retailer to stock Marimekko’s fabrics, apparel, and home goods. More than 50 years later, the brand’s intelligently simple aesthetic — rich palettes, bold patterns, clean lines — still holds up. The iconic Marimekko design is Maija Isola’s poppy-inspired Unikko print, introduced in 1964 — just before Andy Warhol redefined himself with his hibiscus-inspired Flowers series. Which are art and which are design? After a visit to Marimekko, you may just decide the difference is irrelevant.