An experimentalist by nature, Anette Krogstad found her way into the craft scene after dabbling in the art, design, food and tattoo worlds. The lively creative operates out of her cozy shared studio located in central Oslo that is cut back, raw and earthy in its aesthetic. It is in this minimalist space that she spins and creates the beautiful plates and ceramics that decorate peoples homes and restaurants. The process is extensive and a small project can take days to complete including a few hours of throwing, drying, adjusting, drying again and then glazing.The length and effort that goes into making true handmade products is something I think that is under appreciated since the introduction of products that have the ‘handmade look’ to market. This niche industry where she applies her craft is also not necessarily in everyones mind as a viable career option but, through dedication and many hours spent at the wheel, Anette is showing that you can turn your passions into a profession.
On the type of customers she gets:
Some people want something special and I work with them to create an interpretation of their vision, but it's often a struggle getting them to understand what it actually costs. Others see pictures of what I have online and pick what they like. All of my customers are different but I think my favourite projects are the ones where I can go out and see what I'm working with and then create my own vision to put in their space. For example there was this really cool pink kitchen I was working with and they wanted something to go with it so I made pieces to match it but with my own style. This lifestyle is about expressing my creativity as well and I wouldn't make a replacement piece if someone had another dinner set and asked for me to make something the same. I don't want to do that. It's the same with clothing and asking someone to make you a sweater they have seen in another store.
I have works in some restaurants (such as Pjoltergeist and Lysverket). I am juggling the creative side with the sales side and managing this all alone. I'm just sitting here, its sounds very stupid and I'm not actually just sitting here, I'm constantly making a lot of pieces but I'm not going out to places and saying "hey are you interested in these models". I do probably need to do some marketing within the restaurant game but I also really enjoy the work with private customers and would rather spend time on creating than in the sales process. (intern applications welcome)
On art and design culture:
I feel like the whole culture in art and design is changing, when I was young I wanted to become an artist. I wanted to be this super cool artist sitting in my office, with a cigarette in my mouth, always a bit drunk and painting pictures. But then I got to know some of the art scene while living in Bergen and everyone was so smart and conceptual whereas I mostly just wanted to make pretty stuff. I then started tattooing for a while but realistically I wanted to create something with the hands and ended up in design. However I felt myself having contrasting opinions within the design discussions as well, for example having too much focus on mass production, production costs and ergonomics. I think I was always aiming for something in between so naturally ended up in the crafts scene.
Everything was so separate then and what is happening in the art scene now, I do not know. But, the design and the crafts scene are becoming more and more in sync. I feel like things are more accepted today than they were before. Things were grouped together and if you were doing art you could not go over into the craft scene and definitely not into the design scene because then you are commercialised and want to earn money. Then you are not an artist. I think now, with ventures like the Milano exhibition, crafts people that do more artistic projects are coming together with the designers to collaborate. It sounds so cliche but we are kind of uniting when we present and are a bigger group working with each other and not against each other. I think is a huge positive for Norwegian culture and design and we can win with this sort of attitude. Being small it makes sense to work together, the craft scene and the art scene (and the design scene when it comes to furniture and objects) are kind of accepting each other more but, when it comes to music and fashion, maybe it is different? Maybe now is the time when more collaborations are starting and I would especially like some ceramics being put in more clothing stores.
On her sense of style:
My style comes from...I'm not sure, I think it is a mix of a lot of things. I always end up talking about nature and memories but I think that is a perspective I have grown into. After a while people started talking about how my pieces look like nature, for example, then I started looking and thought maybe it does have something to do with that, but it could also be something in my subconsciousness that put me in that lane. Of course my stay at Würtz in Denmark influenced me but I cannot make things that are too similar to their stuff. First of all because it is their style and I don't want to make the same. Secondly because it is their name and the style is showing up everywhere. I kind of want to do something that is my own. I have always had a love for pink and I kind of wanted to mix it up and make these crazy colours a bit more delicate as well as dragging in some of this nature thing. I pick up inspiration everywhere though. I see something I like such as a surface on the ground, a wall, painting that starts to fall off or fungus on food and I try to make something with that in mind, maybe it ends up something totally different, but nice at the same time...Sorry, thats a really bad answer about where my style comes from (Laughs).
On uniqueness and commercialising:
Yes, this is also important to me and when you buy from me, you know every piece is unique. All hand made pieces are unique, but looking at those bowls over there (points to bowls) I tried to make similar bowls but as soon as I do it, I feel like it doesn't have this uniqueness to it. Even if it is my own work, I am still trying to reproduce. Im not sure if I like that. After this year I do need to reevaluate some business plans and maybe put some lines into a small scale production. I would like to work with some people that can make smaller collections where they can wheel throw and glaze. In this scenario it is still hand made and I am doing all the design but I'm not throwing every piece myself because I don't have the capacity to make any more pieces.
This would also allow me the freedom to do more unique projects and special pieces for those who want something truly exclusive. But, for people who want small scale handmade, I can put a few styles into production and sell to shops as well. It is super busy you know and office work takes up a lot of time as well. I don't manage to have an office day at the moment and this is one way I'm thinking of being able to continue to do both the small and big projects. Then again it is also a little bit like selling my own philosophy where everything needs to be touched by hand and needs to be this unique thing. But if I can still do that with other projects then the exclusivity of those pieces will increase. I am still thinking about it right now but the people who want small scale handmade pieces is one kind of client and people who want exclusive pieces is another kind of client so I think it is worth looking at living a bit in both worlds.
On dealing with competition:
I heard in Denmark, although maybe it is a myth, there is a lot more competition between brands and the competition is so high in general compared to here. In Norway you can do what you want and it seems that no one really asks any critical questions. I have been thinking about it recently in the arts and craft scene, sometimes I feel like they find some people they really like and push it push it push it. It has happened to me with things I might not really like and they have decided that this stuff is really nice and Anette (in general) makes nice stuff, even if I'm not really happy about all of these things. So I'm thinking, this could give people an attitude of slacking off if they are not self critical. I feel like you can receive a lot of hype and not develop or get any better if there is no critical voice. I am critical of myself and if I was really self critical there would be a lot of pieces I wouldn't even sell at a work shop sale. But then again, I am selling them for much cheaper and I have discovered that some things I don't like some people really love so I dont always think about my own opinion when putting things out there.
In other countries there is a lot more competition and I think its nice to have competition. It makes the works a lot more diverse. Right now I am working on a nine metre long wall mounted piece for a cruise ship that will travel around Asia and other places. This is composed of a lot of objects in different sizes and they are mounted on the wall to form the large piece. I would love for other people to make more ceramics but have no desire to teach in the future…I think it is my plan D.
What is plan B and C?
Plan B is Gardener and plan C, well that is a fun one. I was thinking about these woman that are getting a bit older and they like to go and take courses to learn something new, now these older people starts to get younger as well. You have all these flower decoration courses, for example, and I have this idea that I would like to make this course where I teach easy food recipes that have a good aesthetic and how to style/decorate it on your dinner table. Then I can sell my own ceramics as well but also mix it up with some retro things and have this whole package. I know people who love to make food and it's tasty but the presentation could be better. This would be a week course where you learn everything. It could even be a package with several course trainers; flower binding, chefs, interior stylists. I have it all lined up!
Thats actually quite interesting because my latest sale was the bowl edition. There is so much bowl food these days and the thing is I haven't actually thought so much about the size of a bowl so much. My brother, however, is really into ramen these days and he really wants some ramen bowls. This was the idea as all of the bowls he had were too small so I had to make something bigger and then we started talking about how important it was to have the high walls and I ended up making so many bowls. There is actually so much stuff to think about when you make a bowl and here some of the design education comes in. I think they just always turn out too small so now I have to reevaluate my perception of a bowl and the size of a bowl, because it should be big! Another thing you have to think about is the clay shrinks 10- 14% , so they look very big when you make them, but after burning they are so much smaller! It's a tough life to make the perfect bowl.
Ben silk shirt in pink from Christina Ledang
All photography from studio and portraits of Anette by Ronja Penzo
Still life photography in grid gallery by Lasse Fløde
Product photography in slideshow by Anette Krogstad