One of the main talking points of this year’s Salone del Mobile was Beyond the New, a strongly worded manifesto critiquing the design industry, written by designer Hella Jongerius and theorist Louise Schouwenberg that challenged the state of contemporary design.
Hella Jongerius (NL) is an industrial designer and art director. Louise Schouwenberg (NL) is head of the master’s programme Contextual Design at Design Academy Eindhoven.
Schouwenberg and Jongerius argue forcefully that industrial design has become stagnant, with genuine innovation replaced by too great a reverence for commercialism and the production of new products for newness’ sake.
Beyond the New suggests design has become “an empty shell, devoid of meaning and substance” and deplores “the obsession with the New for the sake of the New”.
The message delivered by Jongerius and Schouwenberg was not necessarily new (which is perhaps fitting) – it advocated the kind of historically aware, culturally engaged and highly researched species of industrial design that has long been discussed by many practitioners and academics – but the context in which it was presented, as well as the clarity with which the message was delivered, was.
The manifesto was published and distributed during the Salone by Design Academy Eindhoven (where Schouwenberg is a course leader) and Z33 ( at Palazzo Clerici )
Jongerius and Schouwenberg’s manifesto argues that “Design is flourishing. But the field has not benefited” and this seems a pertinent viewpoint.
The manifesto calls for an end to “pointless products, commercial hypes and empty rhetoric” in design. It calls on the profession to abandon its “obsession with the new for the sake of the new”.
The design industry has, over the years consistently turned out a selection of strong products.
Its problem is not an inability to create a handful of innovative products each year, but rather the more deep-seated structural issues that affect areas of it: the unjust royalty system; the proliferation of the new; unsustainable production methods, to name just a few.
The industry needs to look beyond simple profit and to try and discover a system of working that is not only economically viable, but which is able to achieve the “layering of cultural and historical meanings and values” that Schouwenberg and Jongerius argue for.
The profession should take the lead and help persuade the industry to revert to the values of the pioneering designers of the last century, the Dutch duo argue.
Jongerius and Schouwenberg did not write their manifesto for theorists.
Beyond the New was officially aimed at designers and students of design, but its most pertinent audience seemed to be an industry that continues to pursue growth at all costs.
This year, over a hundred design fairs and festivals will take place around the world. We now have more “design weeks” than there are weeks in a year.
Attendance is apparently growing – there is an endless appetite for more. But as an industry, we must ask ourselves if this growth is a blessing or a curse.
Beyond the New was a manifesto for the Salone; a manifesto for a trade fair that spreads over 20 sprawling exhibition halls, each stuffed to the gills with brands pushing myriad new products for 2015.
The basic questions set out by Beyond the New were simple.
How many of these products are relevant and necessary?
How many will be phased out by the new raft of launches at the 2016 edition of iSaloni ?
Shouldn’t we ask for more from our design industry than the brute proliferation of the new ?
Beyond the New
Published byJongeriuslab, 2015
Authors: Hella Jongerius, Louise Schouwenberg
8 pp. + poster, folded sheet, 255 × 360 mm (720 × 1020 mm poster)
Supported by Design Academy Eindhoven, Design Indaba and Z33.
Illustration poster made by Jongeriuslab (Ann Linn Palm Hansen)
Graphic Design: Studio Joost Grootens / Joost Grootens, Mateo Broillet
Typeface: Stanley by Ludovic Balland
Printer: NPN Printing
The manifesto comes at a time of increasing unease within the design world about the public perception of the discipline and the way design fairs are becoming dominated by marketing. eg Jasper Morrison saying the Salone del Mobile has become the “Salone del Marketing”.
Lucas Verweij ( Jongerius’s husband ) wrote that the “intrusion of branding and marketing, selling personalities over design, has become like an annoying commercial break that interrupts a good film.
During the Salone in April, Disegno Magazine conducted an extended interview with Jongerius and Schouwenberg, examining the central tenets, motivations and arguments of Beyond the New.
When did you start working on the manifesto ?
Louise Schouwenberg It started in February when we were discussing industrial design because of Design Indaba, but the ideas actually go back way longer. We met in 1997 and quite quickly started to discuss design. Our collaboration comes from then and we’ve been discussing a lot of topics in design ever since.
Hella Jongerius I was asked to do a lecture at Design Indaba and I normally never say yes to that sort of thing because I’m not a fan of talking in public. But I had spoken there several years ago and really loved the festival – it has very interesting people and is nice content-wise – so I thought that I should do it again.When I said yes to that, I wanted us to start putting our words and thoughts on paper; document the thinking that we’ve had for a long time.
Was it always going to be a manifesto?
LS No. We’d already brooded on when would be a suitable time to do something like this and wondered whether we write a new book. But Hella gave this lecture, which was a short report, and the reactions were very good.
HJ Astonishing. And it was picked up by a lot of people on the net. So we thought that if we didn’t put it down on paper now, somebody else would do it or it would just become marketing bullshit and take over the words without any real message behind them. So we thought, let’s put it all together and do it as a manifesto. Then Milan came up.
LS We think that Milan is the moment. But if we stop after this it will take us nowhere and within a few weeks it will be forgotten again. It’s a bigger thing and will land in other things as well. I’m head of a masters department and with my team have been brooding for some time on how to include a greater awareness about context and production into education.
HJ A book would have felt like a final thing, whereas this is the start of a debate and will have legs later on. I hope it will cover a larger ground. A book is so hermetic and closed-up, which is why I think this form will add something. We need other people who are interested in this and can take the thought further.
LS This text was originally three times longer. We cut it to adapt it to the notion of a manifesto, which needs to be precise and compact. So every line has more thought behind it. It’s not like we’ve just thrown some lines in the air.
Was it difficult to edit it down? It’s still quite wide-ranging and you touch on a lot of issues within design.
LS Well it’s always difficult to kill your darlings and we had some darlings. But in the end it all made sense. Throwing away lines was good, but I’m sure that whenever I continue with this I will go back to those. They might be implemented in education, because you need more rationalisation and more argument there. And you need to put things into perspective. Industrial production is not the most important element in the first year of education, when the main focus is discovering personal talents and fascinations.
HJ It needs more width and it needs more depth, and I also think that it needs more precision. It would be very nice if we could have it all in six points. I can imagine that the next round will be more precise.
LS And will address the users as well, which we don’t do right now.
HJ Right. But we’re just starting. I see so much potential to be worked out on so many levels. That will happen, but for now it’s a start.
Do you have a clear sense of who you want to engage with this?
LS We’re specifically addressing designers, because they’re intermediaries. A lot of mentality changes start from the bottom up: they start from the user. If users don’t want to eat shit, they will force food companies to produce better. But in product design it’s much more complicated in terms of the responsibilities of the various groups. Who do you address? Maybe you should immediately go to the user and say, “You shouldn’t put up with this or that.” Or do you go to the industry? Designers are in between these two groups and by nature explore both the relationships they want to create with users and how to be involved with producers. So they’re perfectly placed to engage with both groups and let them see things from different perspectives.
How optimistic are you that this will lead to change? You admit it’s an idealistic view, but how idealistic is “idealistic”? What would be a satisfying initial outcome for you?
LS That the niche of people who don’t put up with shit will slowly grow. I don’t think we have the illusion that we’ll change the whole industry, because things are always about niches. You create a niche that can grow and in which people can say, “We don’t want it like this. We won’t put up with it.” It’s happening slowly in the food industry, where fewer and fewer people want to put up with processed food. Something similar will probably happen in the fashion industry too.
HJ We would also like to reach young designers who are making unique pieces. Milan is filled with so many young people showing nice stuff, but they don’t reach industry. We want to make them aware that if you work with industry, you have a much larger voice and can change something in the world. The design profession is now so widespread, but the core of the profession, industrial design, is a space where, in a way, nothing happens. They just make the new. Young people can’t reach it, can’t understand it, and they don’t speak its language and processes. So they just make unique pieces to show what they can do and never make the step to industry.
LS If you want to talk about users, then really address the issue of the user. Because if it’s a one-off, that doesn’t have a user. Never. It’s only something for a very wealthy person to collect.
HJ If you have a command of industry or society, do it with a companion that can really change something. You can change production processes, optimise technical possibilities. In industry there is so much to do. We all have to deal with stuff we don’t like and while unique pieces look great and promising, you can’t do anything with them. They don’t change anything in the world.
LS I see from my work in education that many young people consider industry to be the enemy; something that will ruin their artistic ideas or force them, no matter what, to compromise their ideas. It’s always a battle to make clear that 1) they can use industry and 2) they can change industry. If you only aim for that very elitist world of collectors, then you’re not really working on your own profession or dealing with it. We are familiar with the idea of talking about consumers, but any designer who works on products should address a user, not just someone from whom they can get money. It should never be “the consumer” in that process, because while there are parts of a company that by nature address people foremost as consumers, such as the marketing and communication departments, for any designer working on functionality it should always be about the users and how they can relate to designs. The user must be plural, otherwise there is no real user. I think young people have kind of forgotten that.
Where does the problem lie? Young designers don’t want to work with industry, or industry isn’t receptive to working with them?
HJ It’s really both sides. It’s very difficult for a young person to understand how industry works. I’m the art director for Danskina, for instance and work with young people there. But they sometimes speak a totally different language to industry. They come in with pictures and a conceptual story, and If I were a normal industry guy or girl, I would think, “What am I supposed to do with this?” These people need sample materials or drawings; they really can’t do anything with some vague abstract concept.
LS But you can’t deny the importance of a concept for these designers to come up with certain ideas. I think they should know at what point to speak about that and at which point to become more practical.
HJ Of course, I’m not saying you can do it without a concept. But a concept is, in a way, one sentence.
LS That’s the whole problem. Within a school they focus on one sentence and that one sentence becomes 100 sentences to get a grip on what they mean. For education that’s fine, as long as it’s also backed up with experimentation. Slowly, gradually, students get a grip on what they aim for with their work. However, those 100 sentences on the concept easily become their whole focus, and even the final aim. Whereas the industry needs to be convinced with something more practical.
HJ Industry is more focused on functionality and is much quicker; the tempo is not the same tempo as in a school. I was also like that when I was younger, so it’s not like something has happened to change it. We need to have patience with young people and the industry does too. We need to educate them, have them in a company for maybe half a year so they can get to know what’s important in a factory, what machines are there, what are the testing regulations in this field, who that company’s market is. You know, train them. But the industry thinks it doesn’t have time.
LS The other side is that the industry misses the hidden beautiful ideas in those 100 lines. It’s a two-way obligation to open up. Young people have a better feeling for what’s in the air and what’s happening in the world, but they can’t verbalise it in a good way. They lose your attention with their 100 lines, but I think for that reason it is good if the other side starts to look at their work more closely.
HJ But I find it strange that while there are companies like Uber and Farphone, no designer is putting disruptive energy like there is in the start-up scene into changing the world of industrial consumer products.
LS It’s because industry has this reputation of having to compromise. And also because industry has this reputation of being solely interested in making profit. Young people usually are more idealistic.
HJ Yeah, but you can come up with an alternative that makes the whole industry think, “Gosh, what are they doing?” Something in 3D printing or open-source could be a revolution!
LS But industry is so slow to change. How do you get in?
Most of the points in the manifesto are quite common-sensical. Is it surprising that you have to spell those things out?
LS I think it’s worrying that this profession seems to drift off a lot and needs these reminders all the time. One of the reasons I worked on this manifesto is that I hate that everything in this profession is just “nice talk”. Look at the magazines, look at the journals: it’s only positive. There’s almost no criticism of the kind there is in art, architecture or literature, or any of these fields that you can take really seriously. The design world is always that glamorous, good story.
Why do you think that is?
LS It’s probably to do with the fact that it’s so much to do with commerce. But on the other hand, this is such an important profession, because we’re dealing with the things that people live with in their everyday lives. We shouldn’t leave design up to people using marketing verbiage to sell as much stuff as possible. It’s such an important field of expertise and therefore it’s important to give fierce criticism of what is happening right now. For instance, look at Milan: the fair, to me, is usually a totally depressing atmosphere. You see a lot of beautiful things, but most of it is such rubbish and such nonsense.
HJ It’s a difficult profession because it is about the market, commerciality and capitalism. Marketing is a very important discipline in our profession, but if it all becomes too much, too much of this marketing bullshit and going for profit, then you don’t feel responsible for the full range of your profession. You can’t say you’re just a designer. You have so much more responsibility.
Do you think that the things being flagged up are specific problems for design? A lot of the things you mention are surely inherent to the free market and its demand for growth.
LS I agree, but because of that one forgets that newness is not a characteristic of a design. If you have an ideal for what design could be and what a product could be, then you think about how it improves or embellishes lives, the production method and so on. Newness is just a side-effect; it’s not a quality of a product. Innovation is a much more idealistic notion, whereas new for the sake of the new has nothing to do with improving or innovating in a proper sense. New is marketing verbiage.
HJ If I get an assignment from a company I try to optimize all layers, not just create a new thing. In the end it will be a new object of course, but behind the scenes I’m trying to optimize everything. What kind of techniques, what kind of materials, what kind of suppliers are we using? Can I change something in the team, find a expert from another field? How do objects communicate? Try to break the testing system, which most of the time is not serving the user’s comfort, and puzzle out alternative solutions to keep quality within the heavy testing regulations.
LS Or you look at users and creating a better relationship between users and objects. It’s a fascinating field and contains so many possibilities. But if you only think about creating something new…
HJ I think all the good designers do this already. All the good designers are aware and working on using the lightest tool, the least material, or whatever. The really good ones – and that’s why they get the assignments each time; because they’re good – are not only thinking about a new object. They have a whole vocabulary.
LS They dare to have ideals.
You’re both interested in the ideals behind projects, but is that the right approach if an ethos or the designer’s intentions don’t carry through to have an effect at the end?
LS Well how do you measure success? Consider the success of the Bauhaus, for instance. The Bauhaus for me is a total success, even if a very small group adhered to it. We’re not modernist, but we do respect the idealistic aspect of that project.
HJ Its research too. There are many values we could take from the Bauhaus and learn from. For example, the hands-on method. Surprising new insights appear foremost during the hands-on experiments with colours and materials.
LS I love this idea of searching for balance, because you can never give a recipe for good design. You can never say that you should do exactly this or that; it’s always a balancing of many aspects. So we’re protesting what people do or do not do with the industry, but we’re also protesting many designers who work within the purely cultural field. The user often seems to be a non-entity and some people totally ignore all sorts of bigger societal problems and bigger consequences of choices in order to fully explore the mere sculptural or aesthetic value of an item. I think that that is as much a nonsense as only going for economic profit.
I was very interested in the manifesto’s idea that while design is flourishing, the industry is not.
HJ There’s no benefit from it.
LS The field is really large and in Holland the government looks at it as a high-priority fields from which it expects a lot of economic benefit. So it’s flourishing in that sense; many designers, many fairs, a lot of media attention. But the field has not benefitted. You see a lack of idealism. For decades people have tried to reach the media with all kinds of spectacular new designs, but without thinking about which kinds of functionalities are worth trying to address or what relationships people can have with their stuff around them.
HJ I want to repeat what I said before: the core of the profession is industrial design. Design is now so wide and you can use its creative thinking in so many disciplines, but within the core field nothing is happening. Think about a topic like plastics. No designer is studying plastics, maybe because they’re very boring for a lot of people. But if there was great research from many designers around a topic like this, it would fertilise the whole industry. Instead of having the plastic industry at the steering wheel, which is only researching from an economic perspective. Creative thinking of designers is not going into the right channels.
Is that core field viewed as a little bit passé by a lot of younger designers?
HJ It’s boring for them. There’s this idea that an industrial designer only makes sofas and chairs, but that’s just not true. There’s so much going on, but there’s such a lack of input. Companies and suppliers are so happy when a designer comes in and is able to change something. The companies are like, “What!? This machine can do that!?” They’re flabbergasted. So start asking questions and research from a industrial perspective. There is so much that is possible, but it’s become such a stinking water. Nothing is pouring into it. I always work on self-initiated research projects.
LS It’s a pity because industry is capable of working on the full potential of new techniques. Look at 3D printing. In the end industry will be much more capable with that than individuals at home with their own machines. To use that technique to its full potential you need industry. So even if young designers speculate on the potential of new means of production, which someday might even bypass the industry, right now it’s worth the while to investigate the potential with expert parties such as companies. The core field will never become passé. Young people should become aware of that.
Did you consider including positive suggestions for how to bring about this change within the manifesto? You’ve discussed some with me, but were you ever going to put those down on paper?
LS With a manifesto you can very easily become a moral creature. We thought it was better to throw in our views and not pretend that we have the solution or the full answer. Like we said, we can’t even pretend that we’re doing so well at this. But we do want to verbalise our worry about the field and say that it should be taken more seriously. We should take users more seriously and we should take producers more seriously. We’ve all started to look at users as being merely consumers from whom you can take money and we’ve started looking at producers as just filthy capitalists who ruin your artistic ideas. These have all become cliches, whereas the field would benefit so much if that changed. But we don’t have the exact answer.
Design is quite a touchy industry. From personal experience, you can voice a very mild criticism and people behave as if you’ve printed terrible slurs about them. Did that worry you before publishing the manifesto?
LS Everything is so positive, positive.
HJ There is no critical mode and of course we thought about that. At a certain moment you can keep quiet or you speak out loud.
LS If you speak out loud the right people stick with you. That’s why we’ve talked about knowing the right companies and those that share your values. It’s the same as with friends: if you can’t say certain things around them, then those people aren’t your friends.
HJ It’s a risk, but I’m not afraid. I like risks.
LS We can handle it. We’re tough.
The Beyod the New manifesto proclamation is a distillation of thoughts that Jongerius presented at Design Indaba Conference 2015, where she called for new industrial values that pit quality over profit.
Jongerius, widely regarded as the world’s most influential female designer, first went public with her thoughts on the design world in a lecture at the Design Indaba conference in Cape Town earlier this year, saying there was “too much shit design”.
“Designers have a responsibility here,” she argued in her lecture. “I am calling for a new holistic approach to design.”
The design community is divided between merchants and pastors, said Jongerius to the Design Indaba Conference audience.
“The merchants are focussed on commerce, the pastors on ethics. I am a design pastor and today I step out of the closet.”
Jongerius made quite an impact during her presentation at Design Indaba, Cape Town, South Africa’s premier conference focused on creativity, ideas and discourse.
She urged the profession to adopt a more ethical approach to its work.
“I’m fighting for new industrial values,” she said. “There’s too much shit design, too much shopping without conscience.”
“ Designers have a responsibility here. I am calling for a new holistic approach to design,” she added.
In her talk, Jongerius explained the five-point “design mentality” that informs her work.
1) She strives to always design her own materials, for example by creating bespoke yarns from recycled cabin-crew uniforms and waste wool for the carpets used in the KLM business class cabins she designed.
2) She employs a hands-on design process, working with models and material samples rather than a computer whenever possible. For the KLM armrests, Jongerius hand-carved foam models “so you can feel the radius. What is a radius if you type a number into a computer?” she said.
3) She tries to introduce imperfection into industrial processes. Her B-Set range of tableware, designed in 1997 for Makkum, involved deliberately setting the kiln temperature too high so the porcelain buckled slightly – a technique that she says has now been widely copied. “Perfection kills everything,” she said.
4) Rather than starting anew, she bases her work on pre-existing designs. Jongerius based her fabrics for KLM on drawings she found in the airline’s archive by De Stijl architect Gerrit Rietveld for a cabin interior that was never realised; when working on the North Delegates Lounge at the United Nations in New York she discovered Le Corbusier’s original colour palette for the building’s interiors and used that as her starting point.
“I never start with an empty sheet of paper,” Jongerius explained. “I start with a classic or the archive.”
5) She believes in having her own signature, so her work is instantly recognisable. One way she does this is by combining several different fabrics and colours in an object that would usually use just one, such as the best-selling Polder sofa she designed for Vitra in 2005.
“More values than just the new – that’s really what I’m looking for,” she said.
“What can be inside an object beyond just the new?
Is striving for the new the main problem of consumer society?
Why does a piece of art never become boring?
I think it’s because it’s holistic. Good art triggers the imagination over and over again. That’s a feature that we have lost in design.
Opinion Article by Lucas Verweij
The “Queen of the Fairs” lives in Milan: the Salone del Mobile is still, inarguably, the most influential design fair. With the most contributing designers, producers, exhibitions and press, the fair functions in the design world as the start of the new year.
Product introductions are calibrated to make their launch here – not making the date will often lead to an entire year delay in the development of a design.
Over the year, a huge peripheral program has sprung up around the fair, with satellite exhibitions, talks, and experimental design showcases. This has broadened her appeal immensely, and also opened the door to the massive marketing and branding industry – with no consistent rule of control about brand presence.
Designers readily complain about the overload of commercial activity. Jasper Morrison speaks of “Salone del Marketing” as he’s encouraged to do more and more for the press and a growing number of public appearances each year.
The intrusion of branding and marketing, selling personalities over design, has become like an annoying commercial break that interrupts a good film. When there are too many commercial breaks in a film you end up not watching it all.
According to brand theory, acceptance by the design community is the best start for a broader acceptance over time, hence more brands want to be associated with design. But the connection to creativity and design is often forced – three new colours on a 50-year-old percolator being presented as “new designs”. Sometimes this just feels brutal.
Brands organise designer parties and extra curricular activities to stand out in the scene. This is not exclusive to Milan, but it is amplified at big design weeks.
Another cunning way to connect with the design world is to give stuff away. Copious numbers of drinks, brochures, and eatables are now handed out at design fairs.
The host city is literally trampled under foot.
All of the marketing efforts that surround the design festivals create an oddly temporary gentrification process.
In Milan, areas of the city that in the past provided exhibition space for upcoming designers have built a reputation for being fashionable. This has seen them transformed into branding zones packed with standardised brand presentations.
Displays by telecom providers, car manufacturers, and the food industry are materialising in spaces that, a year before, were occupied by innovative design studios.
Serious curation is needed here to defend a sense of quality. An anti-gentrification policy, as being used in cities like Berlin, could be usefully implemented by fair organisers.
Local governments also have a vested interest in protecting design weeks from becoming too brand orientated. Usually, municipalities are directly involved in the organisation of design weeks to support the local creative economy.
The economist Richard Florida first demonstrated the economical importance of this group with his publication The Rise of the Creative Class. His argument that metropolitan regions with a “creative class” exhibit a higher level of economic development has recently been developed further by Anthony Townsend’s book Smart Cities.
Both publications have been very influential among local authorities, adding fuel to the argument for municipal support of creativity.
Take Reykjavik as an example. For the last seven years the city’s DesignMarch festival has been run as a joint effort between the design community and the local government.
The role of such a festival is primarily to empower the local creative scene, to strengthen the vitality of the city, and to learn from each other. By encouraging designers to mingle and exhibit their work with each other, this type of self-help group propels the design field forward.
During the most recent edition, the president of Iceland invited design journalists and members of the public into his own house to emphasise his support for the local design industry.
How much more moral support can you ask for as a creative in Reykjavik?
Meanwhile, at larger events like Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven, design presentations are migrating towards entertainment.
The general public has become the major stakeholder here – the number of visitors has risen to 215,000, more than the entire population of the city it takes place in.
Designers are not presenting to an industry or to professional peers, but rather to a general audience.
It’s hard to tell whether this has happened because the designers that show there have a different mentality – showing work that is intended to spark a wider dialogue beyond the object – or that it has started attracting a certain kind of designer and project because of the demographic.
But if a fair becomes about the public rather than the industry, it seems to stop attracting manufacturers and, in turn, designers stop trying to appeal to them.
In short, they stop creating anything commercial and instead focus on social design, experience design and conceptual design. For this generation of designers, is the connection to the manufacturing industry no longer the ultimate goal?
Projects become judged by social media likes, blog posts and public popularity
The other side of this is a lack of peer criticism. Instead, projects become increasingly judged by social media shares and likes, by blog posts and public popularity – like a Mail Online headline.
But professional criticism is vital to the young and ever-changing profession that design is.
Similarly, the dilution of design innovation by parasite brand and marketing strategies will have a grave influence on the events of the future.
Festivals could easily drift off and become interchangeable consumer fairs, with a little spice of creativity.
Let’s hope it won’t get that far.
About Hella Jongerius
Hella Jongerius is a renowned Dutch industrial designer known for her inventive approach to products.
She graduated from Design Academy Eindhoven in 1993.
She rose to prominence soon after graduating with a series of her designs being produced by the influential Dutch conceptual design collective, Droog Design.
Jongerius started her own design company, Jongeriuslab, in 1993 in Rotterdam, and in 2009 moved to Berlin.
She has worked for many prestigious clients, including KLM, Vitra, Maharam, Royal Tichelaar Makkum, and Nymphenburg, and her work is held in the collections of MoMA New York, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, and the V&A Museum in London, amongst many others.
Jongerius’ designs a range of products, including furniture, lighting, glassware, ceramics, and textiles.
Her work combines the traditional with the contemporary, the newest technologies with age-old craft techniques.
Jongerius is also fascinated by the value of deviations from perfection, the misfits, the individual character that products can assume.
In most of her products, she succeeds in creating this individual character by including elements of craft in the industrial production process.
Jongerius has appeared in countless international design magazines, recently Wallpaper ranked her 2nd on their annual ‘power list’ of designers.
Phaidon published her eponymous first book in 2003. Misfit, her second Phaidon monograph, was published in 2010.
Since 2008 Jongerius has worked as art director for colours, textiles and surfaces at Vitra (Basel, Switzerland).
In 2012 she worked on a new interior for business class in KLM’s Boeing 747 fleet.
2013 also saw her collaborating with fellow Dutch creative Rem Koolhaas on a new interior for the North Delegates’ Lounge in the UN headquarters New York as well as being appointed as design director for Dutch rug firm Danskina.
About Louise Schouwenberg
Louise Schouwenberg studied psychology (Radboud University Nijmegen), sculpture (Gerrit Rietveld Academie Amsterdam), and philosophy (University of Amsterdam).
After establishing a career as visual artist, since 2000 her focus has been on art and design theory and, incidently, curating exhibitions on the cutting edge between art and design, including exhibitions for gallery Fons Welters Amsterdam (2012), Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen Rotterdam (2010), Utrecht Manifest (2009), and the Textile Museum Tilburg (2006).
She writes for Dutch and international art and design magazines and websites, and has contributed to a range of books, some of the latest being the Graduation Catalogue of DAE 2014, the publication Panorama on designer Konstantin Grcic (Vitra Design Museum, 2014), a monograph on artist Robert Zandvliet (Nai Publishers, 2012) and two monographs on designer Hella Jongerius (Phaidon Press, 2010 and 2003).
Schouwenberg has been teaching at various art schools and universities, including DAE, the Sandberg Instituut Amsterdam, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and KABK in The Hague.
Since 2000 she teaches at DAE (bachelor department Living – 2004; master department IM – 2010);
Since 2010 she is head of the master department Contextual Design.
Schouwenberg and Jongerius have worked together extensively in the past.
“In a way she is always with me,” said Jongerius of Schouwenberg, a course leader at Design Academy Eindhoven, in 2013.
“I share a lot with her and often test ideas with her. I have my ideas, but my words are not so well trained as my work. My talent is something else. I explain to her what I’m doing and she creates the words that I need to make the next step.”
About Lucas Verweij
Lucas Verweij has been teaching at schools of design and architecture around Europe for over 20 years.
He was director of a master’s programme in architecture and initiated a masters course in design.
He is currently professor at the Kunsthochschile Weißensee and teaches master’s students at Design Academy Eindhoven.
He has initiated and moderated various seminars devoted to designing design education.
Lucas is also Hella Jongerius’s husband