Hella Jongerius designs everything from tableware and vases to fabrics, chairs and sofas. This was the first time that Jongerius’s entire oeuvre is being exhibited in the Netherlands. ‘Hella Jongerius – Misfit’ offered a unique insight into her working methods, experiments and innovative products.
At Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen her products were hung on the walls and arranged by colour, providing a wonderful insight into her practice as a designer. The exhibition featured not only Jongerius’s famous industrial products – such as the IKEA vases – but also unique experiments and countless sketch models.
The objects were arranged by colour and almost all of them are attached to the walls. This display meant that there were no thematic or chronological groupings and also no hierarchy between preparatory studies and finished products. Moreover, the objects were stripped of their normal functional context. In a museum the user is an observer. The museum context offered the visitor room to reflect upon the objects’ hidden meanings.
Frog as decoration
Two designs were highlighted in the centre of the gallery, including the Frog Table (2009). The museum acquired this table to complement the other designs by Jongerius in the collection. An enormous partially enamelled frog slowly emerges from the surface of the table, freeing itself from its decorative straitjacket. In this design Jongerius explores the potential of narrative decoration. ‘Decoration is a great way of triggering the imagination, and of making you think that an object really is yours’, Jongerius told an interviewer for The International Herald Tribune in March 2009. The frog mediates between the table and the user almost as a living creature.
Vase as canvas
Standing on the floor were 300 vases, arranged in a variety of colour schemes: the new series of Coloured Vases (series 3). Jongerius developed this series during the summer in close collaboration with Royal Tichelaar Makkum. The Coloured Vases were experiments with colour, using an existing vase as a ‘canvas’. The colours consisted of a mix of historical mineral glaze recipes and modern chemical glaze recipes. Some vases have an extra layer of industrial paint. Colour is an important element in Hella Jongerius’s design practice, as you could see throughout the exhibition.
To coincide with the exhibition Phaidon Press published the monograph ‘Hella Jongerius – Misfit’ written by Louise Schouwenberg with contributions by the design critic Alice Rawsthorn and Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator in the Department of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. The works illustrated in the publication are also arranged by colour. The book is designed by Irma Boom and was available from the museum shop.
The exhibition was curated by Louise Schouwenberg. The exhibition had been made possible by a contribution from the Ahrend Fonds, administered by the Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds. The exhibition has been made possible by Maharan, Vitra, Royal Tichelaar Makkum, Kettal, Camper and kt COLOR. ‘Hella Jongerius - Misfit’ was part of the official programme of Holland Art Cities 2009-2010.