Sunday, December 7, 2008

Hella Jongerius

Regarded as the leading woman designer of our time, Hella Jongerius' achievements have been likened to those of great women designers of the past such as Charlotte Perriand and Eileen Gray. Unusual in industrial design, Hella Jongerius' work has an emotional quality. Her unconventional combinations of materials and techniques ensure that objects such as her Giant Prince embroidered ceramic vase or the part-ceramic, part-glass Groove and Long Neck bottle not only fulfill a practical function, but express the contradictions of contemporary life.

Born in the Dutch town of De Meern in 1963, Jongerius studied industrial design at the prestigious Eindhoven Design Academy. She graduated from Eindhoven in 1993 and participated in the first Droog Design exhibition at the Milan Furniture Fair with Bath Mat. Her work with Droog Design continued with the 1994 design of the Soft Urn and Soft Vase series fo polyurethane vases.

She has quickly made a name for herself on the art scene with the work she exhibited in the Mutant Materials in Contemporary Design exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1995, the Self Manufacturing Designers exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and the Thresholds in Contemporary Design from the Netherlands exhibition, also at MOMA, in 1996.

While continuing to work with industrial materials and processes, she began experimenting with traditional craft techniques in ceramics, textiles and glass. By fusing craftsmanship with advanced technology and celebrating the imperfection of found objects and used materials, she has explored the blurring of boundaries between the old and the new, and high-tech and low-tech. In 1998, she returned to the Eindhoven Design Academy, this time as a professor. At the same time, she developed the b-set collection of intentionally imperfect industrially produced tableware for the Royal Tichelaar Makkum. Since then, she has continued on with several more museum exhibitions, winning such awards the the Rotterdam Design Prize (for her piece Repeat).

In 2000, Jongerius founded her own firm in Rotterdam, named JongeriusLab, producing a unique wealth of textiles, crockery, and furniture. Her designs combine new technological achievements with the uniqueness and importance that only handmade historic objects possess. Says Jongerius, "I'm trying to make products that can be loved and that people want to own their whole lives to and then pass them on to the family."

Jongerius frequently joins up with manufacturers to create a new designer product for their line. One such company was Porzellan Manufaktur Nymphenburg, one of the oldest and most revered art and design manufacturers in the world. Founded in 1747 by Elector Max the III of Bavaria and located on the northern lane at the Nymphenburg Palace since 1761, they have now had over 250 years of uninterrupted porcelain production. They represent the highest standard in porcelain, hand-crafting every item and event producing their 'white gold' themselves in the Nymphenburg Mill.

For them she has created a series fo luxurious, but subtly seditious, bowls and plates called Nymphenburg Sketches. She was inspired while visiting Nymphenburg Porzellan and decided to produce dinnerware that was unique due to direct involvement of the porcelain artist with the final product. Obtaining inspiration from a number of possible images, the craftsperson decides on the end result - with the identities of the craftspeople noted in the letters and numbers on the side of bowls, plates, and cups. The bowls have animal figurines marooned surreally in the centre, and are spectacular examples of high-end kitsch, draped in opulent patterns spilling on to the base. They are all uniquely hand-painted but part of general production. The plates are adorned with exquisite hand-painted motifs, such as flowers and butterflies, cherry-picked from the company's historic pattern books. These images are juxtaposed with workaday markings, such as factory stamps and colour trials, which draw attention to the hidden processes behind Nymphenburg's otherwise immaculate products. She has brought animal and plant designs from four decades, from the Rococo period to the present day, together and applied them to simple plates, bowls and beakers. The sometimes incomplete painting illustrates the process of creation that a design goes through. Each plate is unique and highly collectible, with a random selection of fixed motifs per plate.

Hella Jongerius designed the Nymphenburg Sketches service as well as the Four Seasons collection - mirror, teapot, wine jug, and candlestick. Her Animal Bowls, however, are the most famous. From 700 animal figures that the archive at Nymphenburg holds, she chose five and place them in bowls. She has supplemented the naturalistic painting of the snail, bird, rhinoceros, deer and hare with a second pattern from Nymphenburg's design repertoire - irrespective of whether they were originally intended for a soup tureen or used for the plumage of a guinea fowl.

Jongerius's views are often controversial. She is against "the idea of making a traditional set in which each piece is the same shape", and believes that contemporary shoppers seek out individual pieces of dinnerware that can be mixed and matched on the table. Whether the critics out there agree or not, her work is stylish and covetable. She intentionally integrates wrong-footing in her designs to make us wonder if she's made a mistake. She delights in digging out old shape or patterns, detaching them from their original context and messing around with them.

Jongerius would be the first to admit that her work is perverse. One minute she is reinforcing expectations, and then the next minute she pulls the rug out from under our feet. These conflicting impulses reflect her ambivalent attitude toward the design world and what she calls "this whole marketing shit." She adds that, "I like to do things for aesthetic reasons, but not aesthetic reasons that we know from marketing. Design is a profession that I hate and like in equal measure. There's no reason to design anything, yet it's something that I like to do." And from what she's shown us so far, she's very, very good at it.

Schouwenberg, Louis. (2003). Hella Jongerius. London : Phaidon.

Chen, Aric; Alhadeff, David; Burks, Stephen; Helling, Jerry; Rawsthorn, Alice; Somerson, Rosanne. “Turning the tables.” I.D. (USA). 55:4, pp. 70-77, Jun 2008.
“Classic design.” Abitare. 481, pp. 192, Apr 2008.
“Furniture Designer of the Year.” Wallpaper*. 96, pp. 131, Feb 2007.
Ishiguro, Tomoko. “Shippo cloisonne.” Axis. 131, pp. 62-68, Feb 2008.
Julius, Corinne. “The craft of design art.” Crafts. 213, pp. 16-18, July 2008-Aug 2008.
“Limited Design.” Abitare. 481, pp. 196-197, Apr 2008.
Makovsky, Paul. “The art of layering.” Metropolis. 26:3, pp. 106-111, Oct 2006.
Nolgren, Sandra. “En tradig world (A world of threads).” Form (Sweden). 2, pp. 76-77, Mar 2008.
Picchi, Francesca. “Home sweet home: the worker chair - Hella Jondgerius/Vitra.” Domus. 891, pp. 70-73, April 2006.
Saito, Nao. “It’s a beautiful day.” Axis. 133, pp. 110-113, Jun 2008.
Tamborini, Susanne. “Design-Hochzeit (Designer marriage).” MD. 5, pp. 32-37, May 2008.
Taniguchi, Masako. “Cover Interview: Hella Jongerius.” Axis. 127, pp. 16-21, Jun 2007.
Tommasini, Maria Cristina; Jongerius, Hella. “Blossom.” Domus. 913, pp. 75-78, Apr 2008.
Veitiberg, Jorunn. “Gamle monster I samtidig design (Old patterns in contemporary design).” Kunsthandverk. 3:105, pp. 18-21, 2007.
Wolff, Laetitia. “Keep it together.” Surface. 71, pp. 141-144, 2008.
Zetterstrom, Jelena. “Arhundradets brollop (The wedding of the century).” Form (Sweden). 5, pp. 60-64, Jun 2008.

On the Web:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Jongerius is een KU(NS)T HOERRRRRR!!!!

Beetje gekleurde vazen neerzetten en het dan kunst durven noemen met een enorm lulverhaal erbij.