Katrin Trautwein

Dr. Katrin Trautwein (*1962 in Stuttgart) is a Swiss color chemist and entrepreneur. Her research concerns historical color palettes, pigments, and the effects of color and light on the perception of architectural space. In 1997, she founded the Swiss artisan paint manufacturer kt.COLOR near Zürich. Her company is renowned for the production of handcrafted paint colors made from natural pigments.

Born in Stuttgart and raised in the United States, Katrin Trautwein studied chemistry at Johns Hopkins University. She obtained her doctorate in 1991 at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) under Steven A. Benner in the field of molecular evolution.

She began researching the color palette of the Swiss architect Le Corbusier in the 1990s. Building on her research, she developed modern recipes for 81 colors that Le Corbusier used to accentuate the spatial effects of his architecture. Other color palettes based on natural pigments followed, such as the colors in Eileen Gray's “House by the Sea E.1027” and Lux Guyer's "Obere Schiedhalde". Her current research focuses on color ontology, color concepts in architecture, solid-state lighting and color, color reconstruction in historical and modernist buildings, pigments and spatial design, and ecological issues in paint production.

Katrin Trautwein passes on her knowledge about the relationships of color, light, emotion, and the perception of space as part of her extensive teaching and consulting activities. German and Swiss faculties of architecture rely on her expertise in color to lead workshops for students about color and space. Her publications include books, teaching manuals, and design tools for students and practitioners.

Books by Katrin Trautwein in English:

Katrin Trautwein, 128 Colors. A sample book for architects, conservators and designers, Birkhäuser Publishers, Basel, 2010

Identification and translation of 20th century colors to modern industrial paints, in Conservation of colour in 20th Century architecture, ed. Giacanta Jean, Lugano, 2013, pp. 290-305

Katrin Trautwein, Schwarz - Black, Lars Müller Publishers, Zürich, 2014

Katrin Trautwein, 225 Colors for Painter and Conservators, Architects and Designers, 2. Ed., Birkhäuser Publishers, Basel, 2017

Katrin Trautwein, Color and Space, Birkhäuser Publishers, Basel, 2024 (in progress)

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