Trained as an architect, Katerina Krotenko studied design and art in Crimea and St.Petersburg before finally becoming passionate about glass six years ago, at Aalto University, in Finland, where she now works and lives. “It was a turning point for me”, she says, “I came to Helsinki as an interior designer with a desire to immerse myself in the world of craftsmanship, and I was lucky enough to learn how to work with glass with a hands-on approach driven by curiosity.”
In her design, she favours the use of glass that conveys a sense of authenticity. For this reason, to develop her projects she relies on skilled professionals who work with glass. “I have total confidence in them”, explains the designer when talking about her way to work. When working with a master glassblower, communication and understanding play a key role. In the art of glassblowing, the idea cannot be explained by a technical drawing. Therefore, the production process becomes crucial to bring the image born in the artist’s mind to the understanding of another person, capable, with skilled hands, of materializing it into the fluid glass.
This special attention to production processes is reflected in some of Katerina Krotenko’s recent works with glass inspired by Finnish tradition. She has worked in Riihimäki and Nuutajärvi, the oldest places with glass furnaces in Finland and she challenged herself to further develop the Finnish wood imprint technique from the 1960s. The result is “Shaped by fire”, a composition of four glass vessels – in smoky grey colour shades, from dark to translucent – that faithfully replicate the wood grain on the surface. Inspired by Timo Sarpaneva’s “Finlandia” collection from 1965-71, Katerina Krotenko’s “Shaped by fire” series reproduces the texture of charred wood in glass. The glassblowing moulds are made from recycled local lumber, particularly dry cracked scrap wood. The wood for the moulds is consciously chosen by the artist to achieve a variety of textures.
Katerina will soon be at the annual exhibition of Finnish artists in Kaapelitehdas, Helsinki. She will show her works at the upcoming Milan Design Week and Venice Glass Week. Next year, she will also go to the United States for an artist residency at Pilchuck Glass School, invited after winning the Autonomous Residency award at the last edition of the Venice Glass Week.
Katerina Krotenko is a multicultural designer working within heritage contexts. She is keen on metaphysical materiality and believes in soulful objects that inspire a sense of beauty and embody memories and stories.
Katerina works with colours, shapes, and materials to delight the senses. The medium she feels the most for is glass, because of its whimsical character that allows for highly intuitive and beautifully spontaneous work.