Born and raised in Finland, Montanari was inspired by the cool colors of her native country. In 1981, she graduated from the University of Art and Design in Helsinki, and began working at Marimekko. She then moved to Italy, where she lived for ten years, interior designs and furnishing textiles for architecture firms. When she moved back to Scandinavia she began working for the Danish company, Kvadrat. Montanari is best known for blending organic shapes and pastel colors.