Interview edited by Katja Räisänen | English editor Julie Uusinarkaus | Gallery pictures by Jussi Tiainen, courtesy of Helsinki Contemporary | Portraits courtesy of Maija Louekari, Rauha Mäkilä portrait Veikko Kähkönen

The Signature exhibition at the interior design fair Habitare brings together design and contemporary art and discovers what happens when well-known designers and architects pick their favorite works from the world of contemporary art. Signature is curated for Habitare by Katja Räisänen and Mia Dillemuth.

In this collaboration, Around Journal launches the concept of a dialogue between creators by inviting them to interview each other and talk about creativity. The interviews published online take the visitor more deeply into these creators’ minds.’

Maija Louekari, courtesy of the designer

Print designer and illustrator Maija Louekari has selected on her wall in Signature exhibition among other artists contemporary painter Rauha Mäkilä’s artworks.

ML: The colors in your works are always lovely. Do you already have certain colors in mind before you start painting? Like, for example, do you feel that you should use pink, or something like that? Or do the colors come from the subject matter?

Rauha Mäkilä, Ishtar, 2017, arcylic on canvas, 160 x 130 cm, photo Jussi Tiainen, courtesy of Helsinki Contemporary.

RM: Thank you! And yes, I regularly become fascinated by certain colors and color combinations, and I surround myself with a huge assortment of pictures, things and videos in my favorite colors of the moment. Usually, it gets out of hand, and those favorite colors at the time start to be found everywhere and in every painting. I have to restrain myself quite a bit and force myself to think differently about colors. And of course, when painting, the original plan can change entirely, even the colors. To me, images with these colors are like little notes I write about the thoughts and ideas that they generate.

Rauha Mäkilä, Coral, 2016, acrylic on paper, 56 x 76 cm, photo Jussi Tiainen, courtesy of Helsinki Contemporary.
Rauha Mäkilä, I got money, 2016, acrylic on canvas, 110 x 150 cm, photo Jussi Tiainen, courtesy of Helsinki Contemporary.

ML: Is naming your works difficult for you? Do you ever call anything “Untitled”? Does the name come while you are painting, or after you finish?

RM: I always name the works last. Usually, the names of the works are connected to the exhibition or the theme of the work or the subject matter, which they may only loosely relate to. On the other hand, I might name the works after someone who has inspired me or who I have used as a model. If it is a portrait of an imaginary person, I will arbitrarily give the work a name interesting to me.

Rauha Mäkilä, One more, 2016, acrylic on canvas, 70 x 100 cm, photo Jussi Tiainen, courtesy of Helsinki Contemporary.

ML: You have an exhibition coming up. How long does it take you to prepare for the show? And do your plans change along the way?

RM: Working on your own private show is always a long process of considering the ideas behind the works, the frustration of searching for new ideas or exhausting old ones. Once the whole concept finally becomes clear, I can quickly do the painting itself. But it takes time and I go through a lot of material before the concept emerges, so that afterwards even I am amazed at all the thinking and painting I’ve done.


Maija Louekari (born 1982) is a print designer and illustrator. Louekari, who has studied at the University of Art and Design Helsinki, draws her patterns by hand and loves bold combinations of colour. Her print designs can be seen in tableware, fabrics and rugs, as well as in sweaters and Converse trainers.

Maija Louekari, courtesy of the designer

Visual artist Rauha Mäkilä (born 1980) creates works that comment on the world around us and the phenomena of popular culture. Mäkilä, who graduated from the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts in 2007, has held a number of solo and group exhibitions in Finland and abroad, including in the United States, Berlin and Paris. Her works are included in the collections of, for example, the Saastamoinen Foundation, the Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma.

Rauha Mäkilä, photo Veikko Kähkönen

Signature at Habitare fair, Sept 13-17, 2017

Helsinki Contemporary