Hilkka Hellevi Korpivaara, née Wright (1929 – 2017), was born in Vyborg in Finnish Karelia, now Russia. Her family fled Vyborg in 1939 at the start of the Winter War between the Soviet Union and Finland, and settled in Helsinki. From early on in life she was a talented and active gymnast and remained involved with the sport in later life through serving on the board of the Finnish Women’s Gymnastics Association.
In 1951 she married Paavo Korpivaara (1922–2004) who in 1954 became the director of his family’s business, Korpivaara Oy, one of Finland’s largest car dealerships, that imported Toyota and Citroën to Finland.
Hilkkas interest from young age had always been in design and fashion. She designed her own clothes together with the fashion designer and co-founder of Marimekko, Riitta Immonen. Her passion for design and interior decoration also led to many years of actively collecting art and antiques. She was especially fascinated by Asian art and acquired a collection of notably Chinese ceramics during the 1970’s, 80’s and early 90’s from auction houses and dealers mainly in Helsinki, Stockholm and London.