Emilia Ilke

Like many of us, Stockholm-based artist Emilia Ilke has been working from home during the last year. While buckets of paints and sketches have turned their living room into almost a full-time studio, Emilia has had a long-time love for incorporating interior objects into her art. She works with motifs such as vases, mugs, and bowls, and her works have taken shape as carpets, blankets, and wallpapers. Functioning as a playground for the kids as well as an office space for paperwork, her black Ekstrem™ chair matches the playfully beautiful life of the Swedish artist.
When do you feel the most creative? 

When I work on a commissioned project and have a deadline in sight. I love being able to work with so many different kinds of projects and customers. Beyond that, I have a bucket list of things I want to do as an artist, which is both a blessing and a curse. It definitely brings me forward in my work, but sometimes it makes me go insane, too.

Where does your desire to create come from?
It is my call and my meditation in life. I have no idea what else I would do?

What are your solutions to uninspired days?

Work! Or skip working altogether, and instead spend my day on the beach, swimming and sunbathing. Or go for a coffee with an inspiring friend. Better yet - when that coffee becomes a glass or two of something sparkling.

What are your ideal working surroundings? 
Spacious spaces! I can never have too much space around me when I work, and it has to be tidy as well. When I work from home, I have to start the day by cleaning up all the toys and clothes that my children leave around the house, before I can do anything else. An art-related mess doesn’t bother me at all, but dishes, bills, hoovering and unmade beds have to be done before I can go into work mode. 

Then I want a large cup of coffee, turn on the radio, a podcast or some music. Although I enjoy having people around me when I work, I also try to incorporate some hours by myself every day, where I can work in silence, all focused on my practice. 

What materials and tools do you prefer to work with at the moment? 

Paper and acrylic is always my base point. However, recently I have been working on my upcoming children’s book, so I have painted with gouache on paper a lot, and I love it!

You have done textile and furniture collaborations before, and objects like vases and mugs often appear in your images. How come home decorating is such a central part of your practice?

It started out while I was in art school, assisting interior stylists on the side of my own art practice. I found it really inspiring to leave my studio and take part in someone else’s creative universe. And suddenly I was incorporating objects, color combinations, and patterns into my own work.

What's important to you when bringing new pieces into your home?

I try to buy most of my furniture second-hand. If I buy something new, it has to be something of high quality that I have dreamed about for a long time. It is a good rule to avoid a lot of impulsive shopping. Then, of course, the pieces I get also have to be visually pleasing. 

How would you describe the mood of your home?

Lots of art, and lots of movement! Since I work from home a lot, the main room in our home is usually in a constant state of redecoration, based on what kind of project I am working on at any given moment. After my second son was born - around the same time as the pandemic hit - I have almost exclusively worked from home. In other words, it more or less feels like my family and I live in a studio. There are paintings in progress, buckets of paint laying around everywhere in the apartment. I am sometimes surprised that my partner hasn’t lost his patience yet! 

How did you first discover Ekstrem™?
Through a friend who bought the chair for almost nothing at a Swedish buy-and-sell website.


Ekstrem™ is not merely a chair, but rather a stand-alone object. It represents one of Norway’s first postmodern designs. Its unexpected geometrics allow you to sit forward with feet on the ground, sideways with legs placed on the armrests or completely backwards with the front of the torso against the chair’s back. A sitting experience that can only be described as out of the ordinary.

How does Ekstrem™ fit into not only your home but also your lifestyle?

Since I have gotten children, I have had to think differently about the objects I surround myself with. I want the kids to be able to move freely in our home, so I don’t want to have any forbidden surfaces or furniture that they can’t touch. Ekstrem™ can take the physical and eager playfulness of my children. You can almost hear it by the name, Ekstrem™. The chair also matches my aesthetics, it is black yet funky, win-win.

How do you use Ekstrem™ in your everyday life?

Our Ekstrem™ operates 50% of the time as a sort of indoor treetop hut, which the children love to climb on. The remaining 50%, it is my office when I have paperwork to do. We call it “the spider chair”, a name which I think suits it very well!