Armi Ratia (1912-1979) was born in Pälkjärvi in Karelia - now part of Russia. Her father owned a small grocery store and her mother worked as a grade school teacher. She studied in Helsinki and graduated as a textile designer in 1935. That same year, she got married to Viljo Ratia.
In 1949, Armi took the first steps to creating Marimekko. She joined Printex, her husband's oilcloth and print fabric company, and she started buying exceptionally colourful and bold patterns for the company. Marimekko was founded two years later, when Armi and Viljo began making clothes from Printex's unique fabrics. For a nation struggling with scarcity and greyness after the Second World War, Marimekko was a welcome source of colour and joy.
At Marimekko, Armi Ratia was a textile artist, managing director, creative director, wizard of words, publicity guru, and wellspring of inspiration. She had an incredible ability to decipher the mood of the times and sense future trends. She also had a genius for recognising talent and finding ways to realise even the wildest, most imaginative ideas.
Even today, Marimekko's success owes much to Armi's ideas. She was a trailblazer who made Marimekko a way of life, an attitude, a phenomenon embracing the everyday and the extraordinary.