Hella Jongerius by Andrea Dahlén

5th May 2010

Parsons Paris

Andrea Dahlén

Culture of Design

            The Dutch designer Hella Jongerius has been described as a leading figure in the new generation of designers in the 21st century. Born in De Meern, Holland in 1963 she has established an impressive resume. Educated at The Academy for Industrial Design in Eindhoven she first gained a reputation in 1993 as a member of Droog Design; the Dutch design group renowned for their innovative product design. In 2000, she started her own company based in Rotterdam with the name “jongeriusLab” known for unique collections embracing imperfections and unusual mixtures of materials and techniques. The highly talented designer who represents the “next wave” of product design works with mainly ceramics, textiles and furniture.

            She has described herself as a designer who uses “a lot of ingredients to get a product.”[1] The designer is especially interested by everyday life and finds inspiration from the past, researching how different countries in Europe in the mid 1880s performed daily tasks such as the washing to the size of living rooms in that time. In that way she is a designer who combines not only form but history, tradition and contemporary inspiration to mix craft with industry. Her design combines new technological achievements with uniqueness fusing industry with craft, high and low tech, tradition and the contemporary.

            Hella Jongerius’ work has become known for deliberately demonstrating the design process and showing the traces of how the products were made. Jongerius received worldwide recognition with her soft urn in 1994, a traditional vase made out of rubber http://www.jongeriuslab.com/uploads/projects/soft_urn_homepage.jpg.

This product demonstrates how she is interested in combining different techniques to create something completely new.

            Jongerius “recycles” old forms and old traditions. When questioned on her approach to ecology and sustainable design, she doesn’t concentrate on the “ecological” aspect but aims to create work that is “layered, personal or detailed” in a way that makes the product come to life. Instead of focusing on the disposable products on the market she hopes to create products that touches people in a way in a way that only handmade historic objects possess. “I’m trying to make products that can be loved and that people want to own their whole lives to then pass them on to the family” thus making a more durable product.

            Jongerius has a love-hate relationship with the mass production industry but nevertheless she has collaborated with companies like Vitra and IKEA. According to her philosophy mass production and craftsmanship can go hand in hand. She was hired to design a line of vases for IKEA in 2005 that was all stippled by hand. http://www.jongeriuslab.com/uploads/projects/jonsberg_1.jpg

“Only big clients like IKEA give you a chance to revive this craft. I think it’s better to comment through my work, from within a company than to criticize from the sidelines.” Her views and approach to design is one of the reasons she has gained a reputation as “one of the most significant designers in the world today.”[2]

Among the designers she appreciates and finds inspiration from is Castiglioni, due to his revolutionary style in the time he was working. She also admires contemporary designers Jasper Morrison and Jurgen Bey but has been described by curators as “a unique talent who has no rivals”.

For the future, Hella Jongerius hopes to find ways of incorporating her design in order to aid current issues in the world such as poverty and aids. It is an aspect of her own business she finds important to focus on because design does not traditionally solve issues of political or social relevance- “the world goes on, with or without!”.

Words: 595


“Vitra Colour Design .” Dutch Profiles. Film. Directed by Noud Holtman. http://www.dutchprofiles.com/video/detail/358/Vitra_Colour_Design: Dutch DFA, 2010.

“Hella Jongerius.” Designboom. http://www.designboom.com/eng/interview/jongerius.html (accessed May 5, 2010).


”Jongeriuslab.” Jongeriuslab. http://www.jongeriuslab.com/site/html/information/ (accessed May 5, 2010).

[1] Interview September 25th, 2004 http://www.designboom.com/eng/interview/jongerius.html

[2] Aaron Betsky, head of the Netherlands Architecture Institute. See Bibliography http://www.jongeriuslab.com

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