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Dutch designer Hella Jongerius talks about her new exhibition and unique theory on colours

by Michele Koh Morollo on Dec 19, 2017 in Dose of Design , Products , Top Story
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Hella Jongerius (Photo. Markus Jans)

Hella Jongerius (Photo. Markus Jans)

Hella Jongerius, Dutch industrial designer and creator, talks about her recent exhibition at London's Design Museum, and the way in which we all view the world

A particular shade of blue can determine whether or not we buy a chair for our home, while the wrong kind of pink can mean a perfectly cut shirt still won't find a place in our wardrobe. The emotional and psychological influence of colour is undoubtedly powerful. But exactly how important is it when it comes to design?

Vitra's East River chair range (Photo. Marc Eggimann/Vitra)

Vitra's East River chair range (Photo. Marc Eggimann / Vitra)

One person who can shed light on the matter is Dutch industrial designer Hella Jongerius, who was awarded the 2017 Sikkens art prize for her contributions to the field of colour. Jongerius has created products for brands such as Droog Design, IKEA, Camper and KLM, but is best known for her textile, furniture and crockery designs. In 2007, she became the art director for colours and surfaces at Swiss furniture company Vitra, where she has spent the last decade developing new shades for the fabrics and finishings in the company's colour and material library.

Jungerius' Knots & Beads curtain for the United Nations North Delegates Lounge, New York (Photo. Frank Oudeman)

Jungerius' Knots & Beads curtain for the United Nations North Delegates Lounge, New York (Photo. Frank Oudeman)

This year, Jongerius presented Breathing Colour – an installation-based exhibition at London's Design Museum. Employing hundreds of dynamic elements – from textiles and porcelain tiles to multi-faceted geometric mobiles that Jongerius calls '3D colour wheels' and 'colour catchers', the exhibition explored the way colour interacts with form, materials, light, reflections and shadows, and examined the dynamics of colour in life, art and design.

Hella Jongerius' colour palette for Vitra's Hopsak fabric (Photo. Marc Eggiman / Vitra)

Hella Jongerius' colour palette for Vitra's Hopsak fabric (Photo. Marc Eggiman / Vitra)

"My studies on colour are inspired by its effect on volumes and shapes, hard or soft edges, smooth or tactile surfaces, shadows," says the designer. "Many questions pop up, such as 'How do shadows interact with a colour?' and 'How can I make use of colour reflections?' This research is an endless study on the nature of colour, which is strongly related to the individual's perception.

Rotterdam's Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen exhibited 300 porcelain vases in shades applied by the designer (Photo. Gerrit Schreurs)

Rotterdam's Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen exhibited 300 porcelain vases in shades applied by the designer (Photo. Gerrit Schreurs)

"I try to develop this knowledge with daily objects in mind. After all, high-quality colours can engender a fascinating and subtle communication with people, and thus deserve to be experienced in our daily lives," adds Jongerius, who believes that 'seeing colour' is an activity. "It is my task as a designer to trigger this process and re-emphasise experience. My goal is to call attention to colour as a mysterious, ever-changing entity. Questioning the nature of colour and our relationship with it is, in essence, a never-ending process," she says.

This is an excerpt from the “Rainbow warrior" article from the December 2017 issue of Perspective magazine.

To continue reading, get your copy of Perspective.

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