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"Hella Jongerius" Tag

Hella Jongerius and the in-between-state of Design.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Within a era where design industry has been mostly focusing on how-to-reach at quickest the largest market possible by basically allowing marketing and communication departments to take the lead and most companies are sales-increasing-oriented, there’s a figure I’ve been admiring a lot for a certain capability to break this kind of mechanisms. Dutch designer Hella Jongerius has been an attentive observer of the industrial production process and its weaknesses and I could think of her as a designer capable to give the design industry a remarkable, somehow playful response.

Chicle Project, material experiment for The Nature Conservancy, 2009


By having a broad look here and there to her work, I could figure out that the strength of her designs lies in their between-state for both caring about details and imperfections and still being able to fit into an industrial production rhythm. In her work I see some sort of generosity which looks up back to the past (not just to appropriate herself – as most designers nowadays would do – of principles such as authenticity and sustainability) by giving it a further value as a result of her never-ending research around life and ”afterlife” of objects. What strikes me about Jongerius’ design approach is that she pushes design to an almost imperceptible limit which oscillates towards an artistic process. Hers seems to me closer to an art-related way of processing research, brain storming, sketching ideas and projects themselves starting as sketches, always caring about some imperfection which can emerge through unexpectedly magic come outs. This is at least what it means dealing with handicrafts. Something that she has discovered already in the 90s when giving the design industry imperfection as an answer. Concerning to Jongerius, design should firstly be communicative. This is what design is about. Its function lies mainly in its communicative power which can be measured at different levels of meaning.  Even ugliness can be very a strong means of communication. Since handicrafts primarily deal with the impossibility to produce perfect finished products, she has considered it as her own vehicle to face the anonymous perfection that industry has been producing for more than a century. In most of her works, she is been playing with the imagination of the user, by creating fore ex. a ”frog table” which is basically a frog seating at the table itself and a question which comes along with that is: why do we need imagination for (a specific) utility? isn’t use already enough?


Frog Table [Natura Design Magistra] 2009

According to the Dutch designer, there is a persistent prejudice concerning the essential difference, drastic separation between designs that are made to be purely functional and expressive designs which are able to tell stories which go beyond themselves as objects.

Once again the function of design has assumed new meanings and contents. It cannot be formulated strictly depending on terms of use or comfort.
Sometimes the core signifier of design can actually be its paradoxical non-functionality > animal bowls < a project started in 2004 for which Jongerius is been selecting different pieces ouf of the Porcelain Manufacturer Collection of Nymphenburg – as a celebration of age-old crafts and treasures found within the Nymphenburg archive, in Germany.


Bowl with hare / Bowl with fawn / Bowl with hippopotamus

Some other aspects that I really appreciate about Hella Jongerius’ work are the experimentation with the more diverse materials and her deep passion for colours I feel somehow very close to.

In 2009 she’s been leading a project for The Nature Conservancy [x]. In this particular project Jongerius is been experimenting with the natural material of chicle, derived from the rain forests of Mexico. The project itself consisted of a group of internationally renowned designers who have been participating, initiated by the American Nature Conservancy, an organization which strives to protect sustainable materials for use in contemporary art, design and architecture. The results of the project were shown for the first time at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York.

Chicle project [x]


Argali Rugs, 2015

For this project Jongerius has created – within a palette of six colours typical of Nepalese yarns – Kilim rugs which have been hand woven from special Tibetan wool from Argali – a wild sheep breed that resides in the Himalayan mountains. The yarns themselves have been hand spun by local weavers, and their naturally faded colours and irregular character lend each rug a truly individual appeal. Each rug incorporates several design details, including a hand-embroidered area with silk yarn – a reference to an old tradition of repairing the rugs. The fringes are braided, a practice that also refers to an old custom in Nepal – this for its decorative appeal.



Argali for Danskina [x]


There are some many things which should be told about Hella Jongerius, that comes almost difficult to make a choice ouf of the huge amount of her research. Jongerius has been the Art Director for colours and materials at Vitra for many years, during which she has developed Vitra Colour & Material Library together with a quite recent book ‘I don’t have a favourite colour’ which basically refers to the establishment and +further development of an intelligent system of colours’, materials and textiles that make it easy to create inspiring environments in offices, homes and public spaces. It is definitely an interesting book since the Dutch designer has been illustrating her method of research and the application of its results to the Vitra product portfolio.


'I don't have a favourite colour' [x]


Jongerius way of dealing with the design experience is very fascinating for me since I’ve always felt quite far away from the design process, very related to super appealing – almost perfectly finished products.
Her installation/selection within the textile archive of KLM company for Dream Out Loud exhibition at the Stedelijk has been so inspiring for me. It confirmed me further my pre-existing love for textile matter. It immediately brought me to a sort of aesthetics that I personally feel pretty much related to. By reading part of her book Misfit and her .Manifesto. Beyond The New written together with Louise Schouwenberg so many exciting questions came up – concerning the contemporary era – where are we going to? design/art? this over exploited back to the roots feeling and the over flooded quantity of emerging designers. What can design add to the world of plenty? and What is functionality in the here and now?


Discussing Hella Jongerius

Monday, February 28, 2011

Na mijn eerste kennismaking met het werk van Hella Jongerius had ik direct een hele sterke mening gevormd.
Gaandeweg ik aan het schrijven was hoe ongelofelijk simpel ik haar werk vond zoals bijvoorbeeld een door haar ontworpen print voor een sneaker moest ik toch telkens mijn mening bijstellen.

Zodoende ben ik zeven keer overnieuw begonnen. Telkens uit een verschillend standpunt. Ik moest en zou duidelijk maken hoe ongelofelijk slecht ik haar werk vond. Maar telkens naarmate ik me meer en meer verdiepte bleek ik ongelijk te hebben.

Ik vond bijvoorbeeld uit dat wanneer ik in google: “Hella Jongerius kunst” intikte 32.400 resultaten kreeg. En wanneer ik: “Hella Jongerius design” intikte 163.000 resultaten kreeg. Ook op Facebook wordt zij twee keer onder design genoemd en niet onder kunst. Ook verschillende zoektermen in google geven duidelijk meer resultaten wanneer Hella Jongerius met zoekterm “design” word gebruikt.

Zo besloot ik: “Hella Jongerius moest uit het (kunst)museum.” Na verder research over design in kunst musea bleek het Boijmans van Beuningen zelfs vrij bekend is om de manier waarmee zij design een plek in het museum geven. Een designer (Wim Crouwel) was zelf in de jaren 90tig diresteur ervan. Daarbij bleek ook dat Jongerius zichzelf niet zo zeer een kunstenaar of designer noemt maar verschillende dingen op verschillende manieren benaderd. Het kwam er dus op neer dat Jongerius werk doordacht is. Iets meer probeert dan alleen maar design te zijn.

Zo kwam ik telkens mezelf weer tegen. En moest ik toch weer nuanceren. Door telkens opnieuw te beginnen en zoveel verschillende standpunten te hebben ingenomen ben ik heel veel te weten gekomen over Jongerius.

Nog steeds staat een groot deel van Jongerius werk me tegen. Maar wat ik wel ben gaan zien is dat ze niet alleen commercieel werk maakt of veel geld probeert te verdienen met reproducties. Wat ze doet komt wel degelijk ergens vandaan. Jongerius gaat te werk als een kunstenares en vormt vanuit daar vaak toch functionele objecten of gebruiksvoorwerpen. Dit begint al in het ontwerp proces. Ze stelt zo nog meer eisen als iemand die enkel vanuit kunst of enkel vanuit design beoordeeld. Designers die zich begeven in de kunstwereld worden geacht autonoom te kunnen werken met een eigen handschrift en/of thematiek. Maar tegelijk moeten ze aanvoelen wat de markt wil. Toch lukt Jongerius dit erg goed. En voert ze daarnaast een interessant onderzoek uit naar de cross-over tussen deze twee werelden die steeds vaker hand in hand gaan.

In mijn research naar Hella Jongerius en design in de kunstwereld kwam ik op een blog geschreven door “deDeurs” Naar aanleiding hiervan ontstond een discussie…


Dutch Design Profiles

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Designblog made a new link; to DUTCH DFA (Dutch Design Fashion and Architecture) “video profiles”. Presented at the latest 2010 DDW (Dutch Design Week) these profiles are part of DFA’s 4 years program that aims to strengthen the international position of these design sectors. Do enjoy the short video’s. Check out also Premsela Institute the much more interesting Dutch Platform for Design and Fashion. Have a look at their program of lectures and exhibits and their “pioneers of Industrial Culture Podcast series“.

To celebrate the exhibit Misfit of Hella Jongerius at the Rotterdam Boymans van Beuningen Museum –which we visited with E-group last week– and the kick-off of DesignTheory’s latest focus “The Designer as Artist.….”, based on an article in the 2010 5th issue of Metropolis M

we present . . .

C group /Original, Copy or Look-Alike

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Lloyd Hotel Lobby Gielijn poster Zitten

With this typical Gielijn Escher poster a wonderfull collection of 100 chairs was announced. As part of the Lloyd Hotel’s Cultural Embassy program a joint exhibitions was presented of several private chair-collections. This exhibit went beyond its boundries into the intimicy of the hotels floors, rooms and hallways, highlighting their own corporate furniture collection. Gerrit Oorthuys took the initiative of this exhibit and generously showed us around.

Coinciding with the Foundation Year’s January Project Theme “Dull”, we set out to research the origin of a few selected chairs to find out their relation to the motto: original, copy or look-alike. Erik Slothouber (participating in the exhibition with his own designs) lectured on the 2 Rietveld Academies in Amsterdam and Arnhem illustrating the complexity of the choosen motto.

Tejo Remy Rietveld PYR Ramin Visch

(l>r: Tejo Remy/reclaiming design, Willem Rietveld’s/PYR, Ramin Visch/Eli2006)

Research material was edited down to A4 sized guided tours into selected subjects. All subjects presented in this list are also available as hard copy research prints at the ResearchFolders available at the Rietveld library.

As the two collections represent old and modern classic chairs, it gave us the opportunity to carefully select an interesting designers scala spanning the whole of twentieth century furniture design. Starting with Thonet and architect/interiour designers Mackintosh and De Bazel. Bauhaus professor architect and artist Max Bill was highlighted next to Gerrit Rietveld and the renowned interier shop Metz&Co, through which his furniture icons were often first sold. Erik Slothouber’s lecture connected the early to the late Rietveld and simultaneously presented a link to the architect/designers duo Slothouber & Graatsma. Including the company Rietveld by Rietveld constructed the ideal moebius loop in the “original versus copy” motto.

Including Charles and Ray Eames felt like a must as is Vitra for its museum’s chair collection and chair manufacturing. Don’t forget we were talking about originals versus copies versus look-alikes. The Revolt chair –present in many classrooms of our academy– introduced dutch designer Friso Kramer. Lloyds furniture collection containes many modern designer from which we selected, Tejo Remy, Piet Hein Eek, Jasper Morrisson, Hella Jongerius and Ineke Hans. Finally we added some intriguing subject we coul not resist like: an African stool, poet and craftsman Frits Swart, the poster designer Gielijn Escher and a story about the “zitzak” van Audrey Lai Ng that never saw the daylight.

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