Many of the designs of Hella Jongerius (De Meern, 1963) are batch or mass produced, which make them available to large numbers of people. But the presence of small imperfections and unexpected combinations of materials allows Jongerius to bestow a unique character on each final object. The artist graduated from Design Academy Eindhoven in 1993. She now runs Jongeriuslab in Berlin, Germany, a studio whose products include glass and ceramic objects, furniture, textiles, and complete interiors.
In collaboration with senior freelance designers Edith van Berkel (textiles) and Arian Brekveld (furniture), Jongerius conceived new interiors and seats for the business class cabins of part of KLM’s Boeing fleet. Notwithstanding the strict regulatory confines of the airline industry, Jongerius used a radical approach to create comfort for today’s global traveler. This concept includes seats upholstered with textiles in five shades of double-faced (two “right” sides) fabric. It adds industrial components with handcrafted details but a minimum of superfluous and distracting elements. The carpet, patterned after the stars of the Milky Way, is the first “cradle to cradle” floor covering ever produced for an airliner. Dutch carpet manufacturer Desso used yarn spun from old flight attendants’ uniforms—KLM blue, of course—with wool from Scottish sheep primarily bred for their meat. In their overall design concept for KLM, Jongerius and her team focused on quality materials to evoke warmth to counter the cool, technology-dictated aesthetics of the aviation industry.
The work strategy of Jongeriuslab combines an investigative approach with an ambition to shift the boundaries of the design industry, the client, and the producer. Jongerius strives for sustainability, not only with respect to how her creations are executed but also how an emotional relationship can be fostered between those creations and their users. In her manifesto “Beyond the New” (2015, co-authored with art theorist Louise Schouwenberg), Jongerius speaks out against the design industry’s prevailing desire for constant renewal. Rather than add to the world’s abundance of meaningless luxury items, she looks for a way to put existing designs, materials, manufacturing methods, and knowledge to pragmatic and aesthetic use.
Hella Jongerius is one of the 26 designers and studios that are selected for the group show Dream Out Loud – Designing for Tomorrow’s Demands. The exhibition can be visited from 26 August 2016 in the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam. Read more about the exhibition or order tickets.