Katja is sitting at her desk, sighs a little and continues working on her sketch. “This will be fine, it only requires a little work,” she laughs.
Katja is working on a new graphic concrete pattern. “It's interesting to work with patterns since I previously worked as a freelance graphic artist. That's how I earned a living during my days as an architect student,” Katja explains.
While studying at Aalto University in Finland, Katja spent one year at the University of Architecture in Venice. “I guess I have an international spirit. I had already spent one year in New York City as an exchange student before that.”
As a student Katja also worked for several large architecture firms in Finland. After getting her degree in architecture in 2005, she spent 5 years in Kenya working for the United Nations Human Settlements Programme. "It was an interesting time. I also spent quite a lot of time in China, as I was Design Manager for the UN Pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai World Expo.”
Katja joined Graphic Concrete in 2014 as Consulting Architect and Design Service Manager. In the past year she had her office in Paris, where her family – her husband and two children – were living because of her husband's job. “I have to say it feels nice to be back in Helsinki now. My colleagues are the best you can imagine. We are a good team and we work very well together. It's important when it comes to enjoying what you do.”
As you can imagine, it is the international atmosphere at work that Katja enjoys. “I like working with various international projects and collaborating with customers from all over the world. And the fact that this job has to do with architecture is great! In Finland, you rarely get to work internationally in architecture, but here we do. I manage multiple projects at the same time, and they are all different.”
In addition to working as a consulting architect, Katja is also responsible for the development of the GCCollection, graphic concrete's own range of patterns. “It is actually quite challenging. Technically, because you have to think about how the pattern is structured, and practically because you have to understand how the pattern can be used in the best possible way. The graphic detailing is the frosting on the cake; you want to achieve an aesthetically pleasing end result also. Not all patterns or forms can be used; we are an international company with projects all over the globe. It can be quite sensitive which shapes are okay to use and which are not.”
Of all the countries, Italy is Katja’s favourite. “Italy is my weakness – they have everything: exciting culture, excellent food, the best weather! But my husband is Finnish,” she laughs. “Finland is very important to me. The older I become and the more I have seen of the world, the more I appreciate my own country. I love our incredibly beautiful scenery, to sit by the shore of a lake and enjoy the silence.”
In her spare time Katja is designing a summer cottage for her and her family. It will be built far away from the hustle and bustle of the city. “Yes, of course it will have a sauna!” As a member of Finland's oldest Sauna association, Katja can enjoy the sauna and swimming all year long. “Yes, in the winter, too. It’s great!”
This is the third part of our article series ”Elements of Everyday”. In this series we present people behind the scenes at Graphic Concrete.