ARO Principal Kim Yao on Why the Humble Krenit Bowl Inspires Her

Elemental in form and finish, the bowls combine strength and fragility in a structural steel base fused with a delicate layer of enamel.
Kim Yao design inspiration

Courtesy Joy Kilpatrick

As a child, I spent my weekends and holidays rummaging around antique stores and flea markets. My parents were avid collectors of Americana, and their quest for the next great find remains one of my strongest memories. Krenit bowls are some of the few items I collect as an adult. Designed by Herbert Krenchel in Denmark in 1953, these vessels are quintessentially beautiful and functional. Elemental in form and finish, the bowls combine strength and fragility in a structural steel base fused with a delicate layer of enamel. The calculated adjustment of two dimensional parameters—diameter at the base and rim, and height—yields a range of bowl sizes from shallow to deep, small to large. The enamel interior can be vivid red, white, or a soft pastel, which contrasts with the bowl’s matte-black exterior. The two colors, one glossy and bright, the other soft and dark, meet at the crisp line of the rim. These fundamental properties of form and proportion, theme and variation, beauty and function, are instrumental in shaping space and experience.

Kim Yao design inspiration

Kim Yao is a principal at Architecture Research Office (ARO), a Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award–winning firm founded in 1993. Yao is also an adjunct assistant professor at Columbia GSAPP. Courtesy Kimberly Craven


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Categories: Design