My name is Annika, but my niece used to call me AKKIKA. (thus the name).
Most people know that I am originally from Kuopio, Finland having lived there for the first 17 years of my life. Yet I am proud to call myself a true Ragin' Cajun today having officially lived here exactly half my life. As somebody recently told me "What I lack in Ragin', I make up in Cajun."
To give you a bit of history, incredibly I met my husband on the Bayous of Louisiana! The day we met, I threw him off of his jet ski and one month later he asked me out on our first date. Six months later, we were married. (June 2002).
Since, I have received my Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies from UL Lafayette and my Masters of Architecture from Rice University in Houston Texas. And now we are nearly 3 years into the biggest adventure of our lives, watching our beautiful, adventurous, independent daughter growing up ❤️
Through the years Lafayette has always been a place we return to. I have worked in Architecture firms both locally here in the States and internationally at a firm in my hometown of Kuopio Finland.
I taught nearly 4 years at UL Lafayette School of Architecture and Design, but decided since to put my efforts in to working on my own design business AKKIKA in Lafayette, LA, a place we are proud to call home.
Art and Design has always been a big part of my life. I grew up in Finland surrounded by design. It was instilled in every detail of our daily lives: from the drinking glasses by Alvar Aalto, tea candle holders and plates by Marimekko, to the appreciation and understanding of architecture in the urban environment. I have been drawing since I was a child, but not until Architecture school did I find the knowledge and inspiration for the things I was drawing.
Lafayette in general is our happy place. Acadiana is the most colorful, welcoming and diverse place I know. How could this culture not inspire art?! The wildlife, and more specifically, the crawfish is a reoccurring theme in my work. As the kitchen is the heart of our home, so is the local cuisine the heart of my work.
The greatest beauty and influence for my work here in Louisiana is in the history and love behind all of the traditions throughout the year and how they bring the family and the community together. There is always something to look forward to from the way Christmas bleeds into the Crawfish season where it mixes in with Mardi Gras, to the spring time planting, fresh home grown vegetables, and of course the warm summers and barbeques.
I feel lucky to be able to call both Lafayette, Louisiana and Kuopio, Finland my homes. These two incredibly diverse cultures compliment each other and provide me with all the inspiration I need for my art. While these two countries vary from arctic to sub-tropical and from introverts to extroverts, both cultures still maintain the values of family first and a love for the outdoors!
I spend most of my days with our beautiful daughter who is now is nearly 3 years old. We love to be outdoors in the neighborhood walking to the park, biking around and making art together. While she sleeps, I work on custom orders and other personal art projects.
To me, design is an uncontrollable urge to make, to do, and to create. It makes me feel alive! Creating these cultural illustrations has become the natural response to my daily surroundings whether here in South Louisiana or in Finland. Studying architecture helped me develop a sense of scale and see beauty in the everyday moments. Architecture definitely taught me to solve problems and understand the world around me and become passionate over the work that I do.
I truly hope that my work can inspire others as well.