The Krenov Foundation
The Krenov Foundation was started in 2014. In its short history, it has started the digitizing of images of Krenov's work, awarded substantial scholarships, and supported several shows of fine furniture.
The Krenov Foundation is a nonprofit public benefit corporation under the Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation Law for charitable purposes. It is is a 501(c)(3) organization. Donations are tax deductible in the year they are made.
James Krenov was born on October 31, 1920 in Siberia, the only child of Dimitri and Julia Krenov. His parents — not quite aristocracy, but “people who didn’t have to work,” he said in a 2004 oral history for the Smithsonian Institution — had fled St. Petersburg during the Russian Revolution. The family subsequently lived in Alaska, then Seattle. In 1947 James Krenov moved to Sweden and found what he said was very unsatisfying work at an electrical appliance factory. Whenever he could, he roamed Europe. While at a cafe in Paris in 1949, he met Britta Lindgren, a student visiting from Sweden; they married in 1951.
Back in Stockholm, Krenov enrolled in the school run by Carl Malmsten, who is considered by many the father of Scandinavian furniture design. After graduating, Krenov set up shop in the basement of his home. Over the years, his work and his philosophy gained recognition among peers and buyers. One commission, for a box to contain prized ceramics, came from King Gustav VI of Sweden.
Krenov taught at the Malmsten school in 1967 and 1968. Speaking engagements around the world led to an invitation to teach at the Rochester Institute of Technology in the early 1970s. Students there urged him to put his thoughts in writing, which over the years resulted in five influential books: “A Cabinetmaker’s Notebook” (1976); “The Fine Art of Cabinetmaking,” (1977); “The Impractical Cabinetmaker” (1979); and “Worker in Wood” (1981), all first published by Van Nostrand Reinhold and since reprinted by Sterling; and “With Wakened Hands” (Cambium Press, 2000). In 1981, by then famous in his field, he was asked to start the Fine Woodworking program at the College of the Redwoods in Fort Bragg.
In his twenty years with the program he taught hundreds of eager students from around the world while continuing to build his own fine furniture. He retired from the college in 2002, still actively creating cabinets in his home woodshop. As his eye sight failed him, he continued to make planes by touch until the spring of 2009.