Fashion professional and dancer Pete Rahikainen lives in Katajanokka, Helsinki, in an apartment where it always seems to be summer. The apartment features muted tones, a mix of styles and eras as well as a touch of Italian-style effortless elegance.
Hi, Pete, thank you for inviting us to your beautiful home! You have worked in fashion for years and danced almost your entire life – what’s going on in your life at the moment?
“Right now, I’m undergoing a change: I quit my previous job and have been waking up without an alarm for the past three months, taking my time to read the papers, going to the gym, and doing dance-related things that I’ve not had the time to do because I’ve been so busy these last few years.
Many people are asking when I’ll start working again. Of course, the "proper" way to live and work is instilled in all of us, but this feels fantastic and I’m going to take my time to figure out what I want to do next.”
Your profession makes you quite an expert on trends, doesn’t it?
“I follow trends closely, particularly in fashion, because of my professional background. I watch all the men’s fashion week shows held in London, Paris, Milan, and New York and try to spot the most current details. I’ve started to notice the cycle of styles and realized that elements that were fashionable in my youth have now entered the second round.
“The minimalistic approach and a certain kind of gallery-like feel seem to be popular in both fashion and interior design. I’d consider myself more as a maximalist.”
I’m sure that the trends in fashion and interior design draw inspiration from each other, and many interior design fads are reflected in the fashion show sets and related aesthetics.
I recently watched Mugler’s spring summer 2022 film where the people were wearing very little clothing. That video embodies the current minimalist zeitgeist that is also reflected in the way young people decorate their homes – the trendiest style is really simple. The less is more approach and a certain kind of gallery-like feel seem to be popular in both fashion and interior design. I’d consider myself more as a maximalist.”
How would you describe your style and the atmosphere you aim at?
“I love mixing and matching in everything. In the past few years, I’ve come to realize that I like the combination of muted and bright tones – in both clothing and decor. In aesthetics, I’m interested in a kind of sprezzatura: making things look not thought-out and carefree even when a lot of effort and consideration has been put into them.
Already as a young man, I was interested in luminaires and had several hit lamps of the time in my room: UFO lamps, disco balls, and such. Nowadays, people have remotely controlled smart lighting that changes color, whereas I had colored light bulbs that needed to be replaced manually. My love of lighting and being able to control the color of it is still there: if I’m in a restaurant with poor lighting, I don’t enjoy myself.”
“Objects tend to circulate in my home. I often take items in the attic for a while and bring something else back to my apartment.”
Your home is located in a golden yellow Art Nouveau building in Katajanokka, Helsinki. What is your relationship with the building, and does architectural style matter to you?
“I’ve been living in Helsinki for about ten years, mostly in Katajanokka and always in an Art Nouveau building. All the buildings in my street represent the same era and style.
What fascinates me about Art Nouveau are the wide windowsills, stone as construction material, and the great ceiling height that also makes smaller apartments feel more spacious. And the colors! I’ve read a lot about Art Nouveau in Helsinki, and the more I read about it, the more fascinated I am.”
Your home is like a beautiful box of jewelry! It has a charming, Central European feel to it, and thanks to the warm, glowing light coming from the courtyard, it also feels as if it was always summer here. How have you created this wonderful atmosphere?
“This is the first apartment in Helsinki that I own. Once I saw this place, I knew that I could stop looking. The apartment used to be white from floor to ceiling, and in addition to painting, some layers were removed, old interior doors were installed and a loft was built.
The decor and the atmosphere it creates lean heavily on the selected colors, picked from the view over the courtyard. My friend Paula is a painter. She came to my apartment, looked out the window, and told me which colors I should use. Next, she drove to the hardware store and I probably left for my summer cabin.”
“Usually, when I buy something, I buy it used. When I see something that makes me laugh, there must be something to it.”
In this apartment, anywhere you look, there is something beautiful that has clearly been acquired, arranged, and combined in the spirit of sprezzatura. What principles have you followed when purchasing these items?
“Usually, when I buy something, I buy it used. When exploring second-hand goods, making discoveries is so satisfying. I and my friends have been frequenting flea markets for years – sometimes even daily. When I see something that makes me laugh, there must be something to it, whether it has to do with what I do, wear or decorate my home with, or with the big decisions in life. There may also be something akin to terror, but it usually turns into love at some point.
Objects tend to circulate in my home. I often take items in the attic for a while and bring something else back to my apartment. My storage room in the attic contains a controlled chaos of clothing and furniture accumulated over the past 15 years. At some point, I had almost 20 similar biker leather jackets from the 70s. Back then I was always wearing one, but I’ve pared down my collection since.”
What would a really good day be like for you?
“On a really good day, I don’t sleep too long but wake up at nine at the latest, make coffee and breakfast, and read the paper for about an hour. Then, I go to the gym and have lunch with a friend or acquaintance. Often when I go to the city center, I meet someone I know and start chatting and only get home at around eight in the evening.
On some mornings in early fall, I get this warm, steady flow of sunlight in my apartment and it feels amazing. That light creates a wonderful atmosphere. That’s what I wish for my life this fall, having those mornings when I’ve woken up without an alarm and get to enjoy a leisurely breakfast reading the paper.”
Text: Hanna-Katariina Mononen Images: Niclas Mäkelä Video: Joni Tuominen